Date: 12th July 2021

‘KEEP CALM AND HAVE A CUPPA’ - STOCKTON TEA ROOM BRINGS COMFORT TO CUSTOMERS

A CAFE in Stockton which opened two days before the first lockdown is looking forward to realising its full potential, following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Dovecot Tea Room, on Prince Regent Street pivoted to become a takeaway, bringing comfort and a cuppa to new customers during the pandemic.

But owners Andrew Leatherdale and Scott Irving are now welcoming people through their doors with a friendly smile as well as a hot cuppa and a slice of cake!

The new Tea Room has been supported by Stockton Business Improvement District (BID) and is one of many businesses which have been filmed for a second YouTube series of Humans of the High Street - a project which tells stories of how Stockton businesses have fared during the pandemic.

Jason Maxwell, Stockton BID Manager, said: “It was great to see how businesses like Dovecot Tea Room adapted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and I am so pleased that, now the lockdown has eased and people can go out and enjoy a bite to eat again, the business appears to, not just be surviving but thriving.

“Dovecot Tea Room is one of a number of businesses to have taken part in Humans of the High Street series 2, which demonstrates the resilience of or BID members through a collection of heartwarming and honest stories of real businesses reopening after Covid 19.

“All our independent businesses on the high street do need the help of the public, who we urge to shop local and to come and enjoy what our local, independent businesses that have just reopened have to offer.”

Andrew said: “We are actually still in an unknown period as to how successful this business can be, as we are a new business that opened two days before the first lockdown.

“We still don’t know its full potential because we have only just started operating something approaching normally - and we’re still not fully out of lockdown.

“We feel uncertain but hopeful – that's the best way to describe it.”

The Dovecot Tea Room has reopened in between lockdowns and has also provided a takeaway service – most recently a Father’s Day afternoon tea.

Both its café service and takeaway service have received rave reviews on Facebook, with its current star rating standing at 4.9 out of 5.

Andrew explains he and Scott “kind of knew” the first lockdown was coming when they opened, but they were determined to “get their foot in the door” and get set up.

“We didn’t know if we were going to open at all during lockdown and we did close initially because of the unknown, but then we started to operate a takeaway service,” said Andrew.

“When we were able to open again, we had this period of not knowing if we were going to be closed down again.

“We thought we would be open for Christmas then due to lockdowns, it was decided that Christmas wasn’t going to happen - and Christmas is one of the biggest money-making times for a business like ours.

“We had to readapt and provide a takeaway and delivery option that was suitable for Christmas gifts.”

Andrew now believes running a business in the most turbulent of times has been a good lesson.

“The experience will hopefully equip us for developing the business in the future and has made us adapt to whatever circumstances we are faced with,” Andrew said.

“We have only ever run our business through Covid times but we have come through it and I believe we will be built from much stronger stuff as we come out of it.

“We just want some normality now and hope the country’s lockdown days are behind us so that we can move forward with a normal marketing strategy.”

You can find Dovecot Tea Room story on Humans of the High Street visit You Tube and for more information, visit https://www.stocktonbid.co.uk/ or Stockton BID’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels.

Stockton BID – a partnership between local businesses and organisations with the aim of making a difference to the town centre – represents around 400 businesses from retail and entertainment to food and drink, professional services, health and beauty and creative businesses.

Sam Withers