Fresh start for Monkstown business after original launch day was hit by lockdown

The owner of a newly-established business in Monkstown has thanked the local community for supporting him during the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 29th June 2020, 10:50 am
Graeme with Amanda and their daughter Abigail.

Daisy Brown’s Cafe Bakery was set up as a limited company in February 2020 with owner Graeme Brown planning to open its doors to the public on March 23. However, due to the UK entering lockdown on the same day, Graeme’s plans had to be placed on the back burner for a number of months.

Now with the support of his wife Amanda, employees Lynn and Sandra and his mother and grandmother, Mr Brown has been able to start catering for takeaway orders.

Detailing his experiences to date, Graeme said: “I left my job as general manager of a garden centre in February 2020 and took over the premises at the start of March.

Daisy Brown's.

“We had planned to open on March 23, just as lockdown began. A lot of hard work went into getting the premises remodelled and ready for the grand opening only to find out that cafes had to close.

“We enjoy cooking and baking so a cafe/bakery seemed like a good fit for us. I managed a restaurant in Florida for four years, while studying for my associate’s degree in business management and administration.

“When I returned to Northern Ireland, I went to work in a garden centre and worked my way up to general manager, but I’ve always wanted to run my own business.”

Commenting on the challenges facing the business during the current climate, he added: “We hope to open for sit in as soon as we can. The most recent guidance is saying July 3, but we are waiting for further direction as to how many we’ll be able to accommodate.

“We hadn’t even begun to trade when lockdown started, so we missed out on a lot of the government assistance that was offered due to Covid-19. We did eventually manage to get the Small Business Support Grant, but we were unable to receive furlough for our two employees.

“We received no guidance from the government about when we should open or what we should have in place in order to open. We opened on June 11 for take away only.

“We did our own research and put as many things in place as possible to keep our staff and costumers as safe as we possibly can. We put up Perspex screens about the serving counters, set a limit of only three customers in the cafe at a time with boxes marked out on the floor as to where to stand and supplied hand sanitiser.

“We were keen to open as soon as we could, but we had to weigh the risks up, as everyone is having to do at the minute. Amanda is just over half way through a year-long treatment for melanoma and had received a shielding letter and we had taken the decision to shield as a family. We had considered opening sooner to do deliveries, but decided against it after weighing up the risks.”

Thanking the Newtownabbey community for supporting the business during its early stages, Graeme said: “We are delighted to finally be up and running and looking forward to getting a proper ‘Grand Opening’ once things all settle down and return back to ‘normal’.

“We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been in so far and supported us, it has meant a lot to us.”

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