Tiz Weepers, owner of Rendezvous Cafe, tells her story of how the pandemic affected her cafe, which has been in her family for 60-years, from shutting up shop to reopening to welcome back old customers as well as new. Reminding us all that we need to do out bit to help keep the North East open and #BeatCovidNE.
Q. How has your business been affected by Covid-19?
Like many businesses across the North East affected by the pandemic, we have weathered the storm. We were able to re-open between the first and second lockdowns and were astounded by the response from our regular customers. We can’t thank them enough for their support over the past 12-months.
Q. What challenges have you faced?
The Rendezvous Cafe was first run by my grandfather and then my parents. I am now the third generation to run the business. I don’t think any of my family could have imagined running a business during a pandemic. It’s been extremely tough but we've all been in this together.
Upon opening up it was a learning curve for us all. We had to downsize the number of tables inside the cafe to ensure social distancing is maintained. This has been a big change but ensures a safer environment for customers and staff.
Q. What changes have you had to make in response to the pandemic?
Alongside reducing the number of tables, we now offer table service and all staff wear masks and gloves at all times. It’s crucial for us that we have the right PPE. To help our team and our customers feel safe.
Q. How have you and your staff coped during lockdown?
My staff have been fantastic. All of my staff were furloughed, and we continually checked in with each other throughout the pandemic. They were all relieved and happy to come back to work when we could reopen.
Q. When people visit you, what will they see that is different now?
Inside customers will see there are less tables but more space to ensure everyone feels and stays safe. They can still enjoy their regular order or a sweet treat inside thanks to our table service. Customers can grab a brew or an ice-cream as usual from our walk-up window.
When walking to the cafe, customers might notice a big difference. All thanks to the North Tyneside Council’s more than £1 million revamp of the Northern Promenade.
Outside the cafe there is new surfacing on the promenade and the cafe has undergone repointing work and repairs.
The cafe, originally built in 1933, has also had a brand new heritage glazed windows installed in a sympathetic style - preserving our character while improving the fabric of the building. I’d like to thank everyone at North Tyneside Council for the work that’s been done.
Q. What has the response been since reopening?
The cafe has received incredible support from the local community. Customers, both old and new, have told us they feel safe when they come in and are happy to see us back open. We’re delighted to be able to welcome everyone!
Q. Why are you supporting the Keep the North East Open campaign?
It is important now more than ever that as we leave lockdown we all continue to work together to ensure that we do not fall at this last hurdle and I feel this campaign is doing an important job of reminding us of that.
This is our region, our communities, our local businesses and it’s up to us to look after them. Together we can Keep the North East Open.