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The new normal?

For ten weeks now, our hospitality sector has been closed due to coronavirus. Our regular Friday evening at the pub or mid-week ‘date’ night has been replaced with a new kind of normal. Our favourite pub grub delivered to our door in foil and our fine dining dishes picked up by the curb side. As of yet there is little guidance from the government as to when this industry will open its doors and what the model will look like when this happens. Until the government enter phase three of reopening the country, which will then allow the hospitality sector to reopen, there is much uncertainty.

We spoke to Chloe Francis – Oakley, founder of the Award-winning Cobbles kitchen in Ogmore by Sea. A foodie’s dream situated on the popular drive to the seaside, Ogmore beach and a stone’s throw away from Merthyr Mawr sand dunes. Renowned for their delicious breakfasts, mouth-watering Roasts, Afternoon teas, Welsh Tapas and chef takeovers. A bustling restaurant and a perfect cyclist pitstop to refuel with bacon and eggs, is now a different reality. An empty courtyard having been forced to shut its gates due to COVID 19. Chloe gives us an insight into what it’s been like over the past ten weeks and how she intends on reopening her doors to her eager customers.

“When lockdown was announced and the restaurant was forced to close, I like many others in business felt a huge sense of dread. How will the business survive? The truth is that without support we couldn’t and wouldn’t. Chloe has been fortunate enough to receive two grants from the government which has been enough to keep the beautiful Cobbles afloat.

When asked what new approaches she has taken, Chloe explained that after 6 weeks of closure, she took the decision to reopen as a takeaway service with a very small team.
“the takeaway took off like I’d never imagined. We are so very lucky to have a huge following on our social media channels” Clever advertising, running giveaways and constant social media posting (plus a reputation for delicious food) has resulted in being sold out every week of one of the picnic packages.

As well as running a hot food takeaway from the kitchen, Chloe has also opened up an online deli shop too. Both aspects are thriving. The ease of customers ordering online with the click of a button and a delivery service is obviously a great attraction.

So, what does the future look like? Despite being unsure about future plans, Chloe is really enjoying the new way of running things. “with the support Cobbles is receiving, I truly believe that lots of good will come out of a very awful time”.

Online ordering services are now more prevalent than ever and for the time being eating in is the new ‘dining out’ and for the time being, it’s here to stay. We wish Chloe all the very best and look forward to her opening her gates and courtyard very soon.

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