Cake Stories Kerb
Image Source: Rob Lawson
CAKE STORIES ... co-owner Ben Evans

Member Article

Cake Stories on the path to greater success

OPENING a kerbside kiosk has put a popular Jesmond café on the ‘path’ to greater success.

Family-run Cake Stories coffee house and bakery has been in Jesmond since 2015, but had to close its doors when lockdown started in late March.

For the last two months, however, husband and wife team Ben and Hannah Evans have been serving hot drinks and bakes in a purpose-built kiosk, which has enabled them to keep the business going.

“We’d recently opened our new kitchen at Hypoint in Gateshead and were in the process of taking on two new bakers when lockdown started,” said Ben.

“We knew demand hadn’t gone away and wanted to open in some way as soon as possible, but the challenge was how to serve customers while social distancing. We had no problem baking as our new Hypoint kitchen is big enough for bakers to work while keeping two metres apart. The kitchen has been a bit of a lifeline, it’s enabled us to keep going and we’re pleased we moved in when we did,” he added.

“Our kerbside kiosk has been very popular and we’ve been serving old and new customers since May, adding to our range weekly to keep it interesting. At first Hannah and her mum and business partner Liz were doing all the baking, but our online orders and the success of the kiosk meant we could bring back more staff from furlough. Now we have great staff running the shop and a team of bakers working through the week.”

Ben and Hannah used the enforced lay-off to think strategically about the business. The pair are in the process of completing a brand update and also worked on their website, which helped when the online ordering part of the business became more important.

“We wanted to make the most of the breathing space so we’ve also been working with RTC North on how to expand the business further. They’ve been great, guiding and mentoring us on the next step. Lockdown was a shock to the system at first, but we were determined not just to sit around and have used the time constructively,” Ben explained.

The online orders kept the business busy; the kerbside kiosk and the re-opening of some of their wholesale customers took the business back to “80-90 per cent” of where it was, and Ben and Hannah are now hoping to re-open the café in September, ready for a new intake of students who form proportion of their regular customers.

“The shape of the café isn’t ideal for social distancing, but we hope by September the social distancing rules will have relaxed so we can open up properly,” said Ben.

“I’d really like to thank all of our customers – old and new – for sticking with us, or trying us out. We couldn’t have kept going without their support,” added Ben.

Charlie Hoult, MD at HyHubs, which owns Hypoint, Hoults Yard and the new Haylofts business centre at Haymarket, congratulated Ben and Hannah on their entrepreneurship. “It’s great to see them being so enterprising and using their time and resources so wisely. I’m just pleased Hypoint has played a role in their ongoing success.”

Before lockdown began, Cake Stories employed more than 30 people between its Hypoint and Jesmond sites, supplying other cafes such as Butterfly Cabinet in Heaton; the Cycle Hub on Newcastle Quayside; Newcastle Tea House, and the Estate Tea Company in Gateshead.

Hypoint is part of the Hyhubs portfolio of business centres that also includes Hoults Yard and Haylofts, the old Deuchar Brewery stables on St Thomas Street, near Haymarket.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Hoults Yard .

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