16th November 2020   •   profile
Can independent cafes survive another lockdown? We asked Social Brew owner Roomana Nasir

Before the Coronavirus struck the UK had a thriving coffee shop culture with around 26,000 such outlets across the country. But the continuous lockdown have hit most really hard.

One of the many adversely impacted is Roomana Nasir, the owner of Social Brew in Putney, South London.

She discovered her calling and opened her cafe in 2018, making "healthy indulgence" a focal point. But she has suffered lately as bills piled up while no revenue was being generated.

“Daily revenue sometimes does not even cover the daily costs. It is a struggle to trade the expenses between staff costs – bills, stock, rent, retail," Roomana tells me.

The cafe too had to be revamped for social distancing requirements: seating restricted to half; only one household to sit together; distancing customers for dine-in and takeaway; PPE equipment made available for everyone; and staff retraining. But that hasn't bought back customers.

Still, Nasir considers herself lucky to be ble to keep doors open, employ staff and feed the homeless with extras. “We at Social Brew are survivors and we will come through this time fighting all the way,” she says.

However, with lockdown 2 the prospects for independent cafes looks quite bleak. Nasir is now looking to find new and alternative retail avenues without substantially increasing costs.

"We are considering local delivery ourselves other than Deliveroo and Ubereats and providing a mini market for local residents.”

The COVID-19 era has forced businesses to adapt to ways they may not have otherwise imagined.
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Sadia Humayun is a freelance journalist and writer
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