A thank you letter to our customers, team and our support crew.
We sit here and write this on the eve of our first birthday, which on one hand feels like it has arrived in the blink of an eye but also as if it has been a long twelve months.
When we look back to a year ago, we had just gone into the second national lockdown and what felt like all the hope of the summer 2020 and the pandemic easing had disappeared. Our original plans for the business model were put on hold and we went straight into a Plan B. It’s funny now to look back and see how much we evolved and how quickly we were forced to adapt.
During those first few months the general small talk with customers was always focused on “you are so brave” or “what a bad time to open a business” but in truth, we weren’t all that brave and with all the other coffee shops in town pretty much closing it turned out to be a great time for us to open.
If you have ever opened your own business you will know the absolutely terrifying feeling of putting everything in your head into real life and believing you have a good product that people want – but what if no-one comes? And what if no-one likes it? So first and foremost, our biggest thanks go to anyone who came during those first few days, as they were the most scary.
As the months of lockdown went on and the New Year hit hard, we came to realise that all of a sudden we were becoming the backdrop to so many peoples’ lives and we were privileged to have a unique view of the pandemic from the other side of our little coffee counter.
We witnessed some really beautiful moments; grandparents meeting grandchildren for the first time, people seeing their mums for the first time in months, families reuniting in groups of six and the raw emotions of people who had lived for weeks in isolation feeling hopeful again after having their jabs next door. It was something really special to be a part of.
The puppies, oh my days let’s not forget the puppies! The puppy pandemic hit Buckingham and we just loved, loved, loved meeting all these furry faces. We don’t think we realised what an important part of our day all our four legged friends would be and the only sad thing is now when we are too busy we don’t get to fuss them any where as much as we would like!!
By the time Chef’s Table opened in May we were really in the full swing of it downstairs; the coffee shop had evolved and become more established than we originally planned but we really wanted to remind ourselves and show you all that we were so much more than a coffee shop. We have absolute loved being back serving our style of food in a setting which is pretty unique and allows us to play around with food and drinks. We also love how every Chef’s Table has been so different: we’ve had singing, we’ve had dancing and a lot of sloe gin has been consumed. You guys really do make working on a few hours sleep really worthwhile.
The support from you, our customers, has been overwhelming at times but you are also super good at peer pressure. We solely hold you all to blame for CPK pt 2, aka the new seating area, because opening one business in the pandemic wasn’t challenging enough. Expanding the business into the next-door unit was a no-brainer when we were offered the chance to take it on. We just had to hope all of you that said you wanted a seating area and wanted the pop-ups were serious. The hilarious thing was the transition from thinking on the eve of opening last November that we were worrying “what if no one comes” to the eve of the new bit opening in September worrying “what if EVERYONE comes” and woah, you did come and we love you for that.
It wasn’t until we were in the thick of renovations that we realised what an impact the expansion was on the team; we were not only, tired, stressed and distracted but their jobs were about to change overnight. How they have supported us and adapted to the changes has been amazing and we hope that we have made it an even more fun and rewarding place to work and develop their careers. There has not been a day since we opened that we did not want to come to work and our team are the biggest part of that.
So we have our CPK bubble and our great customers but there is also another group of people working tirelessly in the background to have made CPK what it has been the past year, after all, coffee doesn’t roast itself and bacon doesn’t grow on trees. Honestly, without the experience and expertise of our suppliers, CPK would be just another coffee shop. Working with like-minded people who really care about their products and providing excellent customer service makes our job just that little bit easier and for that we are super thankful.
Finally the biggest thank you is to our families and friends who either work for us or we literally never see. A lot of you were the first people through the doors, ordered from us online and helped spread the word. We promise that our biggest priority for year two is to restore some balance and see you all a bit more.
So what’s next for CPK? Establish a routine; monthly pop ups, weekly specials, special events. We have so many plans that we can’t wait to share with you. Here’s to the next year.
George and Sarah