Kenton Lane Cafe, a highly successful family business run by Hetal Thakrar in Stanmore, has had to tackle ever-changing COVID-19 Restrictions. During an interview on the 31st October, he has shed light on exactly how small businesses like his have managed in the last 7 months

Q: How has Kenton Lane Cafe adapted to tackle COVID-19 regulations and government guidelines? 

“During lockdown, following government guidelines, we were open only for takeaways and deliveries. We have now halved the number of tables in the cafe to ensure there is over 2m in between each table. Staff wear masks and we have introduced sanitizing stations on each table. Our menus are now 1 time use as well as our condiments now being 1 time use(sachets). We took the extra step to install air purifiers into the cafe to keep both our staff and customers safe.”

Q: To what extent did you feel the positive effects of the Eat Out To Help Out Campaign? Did you receive government support?

“Other than government regulations I feel that there was not much government support. ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ increased demand - however, as we got rid of 1/2 our tables and customers were not allowed to eat in for a few months, it was a temporary increase in demand where we had to take all staff off the furlough system as we needed all hands on deck. The main benefit for us in a non passing trade area was the impetus the scheme gave the public to leave their home. We then had to demonstrate that we were safe and responsible.”

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted supplies? Were there delivery issues? 

“During lockdown due to many people overstocking and panic buying quite a few supplies were in low stock. As the government was recommending for everyone to stay home we found that delivery slots were all booked up and this caused a chain reaction resulting in the delay in wholesale deliveries and logistics nationwide too.”

Q: Do customers fully follow health and safety guidelines?

“We have multiple signs up and many sanitizers, this is all customers can really do, they also fill their details into a track and trace form therefore we can notify a customer if someone else they may have come into contact with has had coronavirus.”

Q: How has demand changed throughout the course of COVID-19? What projections do you have for demand returning to normalcy?

“Right now I think it would not be possible to create projections as I think this will be the new "normal" for a while now, and no one is sure when we will return to what used to be considered 'normalcy'. Each time there has been a new government announcement we have to change aspects of the cafe and adapt it to match current guidance, and we have no idea what next week holds.”