Friday 20th March 2020 seems a long time ago when we think about what we, as a nation, have endured over the last year.
It was, of course, that fateful evening, when Boris Johnson announced the closure of all restaurants from midnight, as just one of the immediate consequences of our U.K. Lockdown.
At this point, little did we know that the unfamiliar word, ‘Lockdown’ that felt so frightening and alien, would soon become our “new normal”.
As a business, we immediately had to devise a strategical plan that would ensure the survival of Libby’s Bread & Wine through what was going to be the most challenging year we, as a country, have faced in a long time.
From that point, we remained OPEN as a takeout – a transition that was smoother in some respects than others.
Our daytime bakery and takeout seemed to take well to these new circumstances, but as many of you will know, we found it a little more difficult to adjust our evening to such a way that we were flourishing but also sustaining an organised, maintainable system.
This, through trial and error, has now been completely transformed AND we are so proud of how our evening takeout has turned around in the past year. This was a huge learning experience, for everyone!
During the ‘Tier’ fiasco in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we really had lost all hope. Not unlike the rest of the country, we had gone through months of uncertainty, rocky finance, anger, frustration and devastation. Now, being in Tier 3, we were still unable to open whilst neighbouring communities were. The decision was finally made to close our doors.
But then – HOPE.
Not only did the ferocious loyalty of our customers keep us going, but our team of wonderful staff, who despite ups and downs, supported one another whole-heartedly.
From feeling spent and exhausted, there was an almost renewing sense of rejuvenation over the weeks we were closed. We had some fight still left to give. We didn’t alter much when we reopened, but spirits were significantly raised as our staff returned to work and Libby’s was once again lighting up Town Street.
As we approach the 12 month mark of this crazy journey we’ve all endured, at Libby’s we’ve been reflecting on the things we have learned and experienced, rather than the things we have lost. First and foremost, we have got to know you, our customers! Libby’s has always prided itself on being a warm, communal hub for the locals, but we have been thoroughly touched by your kindness, we have felt switched on and engaged with your conversations and truly lifted by your smiles.
We feel that through lockdown, we have had the chance to converse with you, as individuals, more than ever. Additionally, we have had the opportunity to work on our presence online, getting to know what people want to see, what they want to see more of and what we can do to make Libby’s dishes and bakes even more varied and diverse. We’ve well and truly realised the significance of interaction via social media.
Our fantastic bakers have got better than ever, getting more creative and innovative with ideas for our ever-growing counter. We’ve even introduced vegan sausages on our menu (a long time coming, some would argue) so that non-meat eaters have more of a choice when they frequent our establishment.
It’s been a tough 12 months for every single person out there, whatever their situation. Everyone has suffered in some way, shape or form. But we are on the cusp of freedom and my goodness, we’ll be sure to come out of this better and stronger than ever.
To everyone who has supported us with their custom, their kind words, their understanding and patience, we will be forever grateful.