"Oh January will be a wash out anyway."
"January is always slow."
"You can forget about January and February."
Yep, it turns out it's true what they say, at least in some parts. As an owner of a new independent business I heard these warnings and hoped that it would be wrong of course.
'We will be different, people want cinnamon buns and meatballs in January and February too, right?'
Well they did.. but not as much as other months for sure and it gnaws at your confidence I can tell you that. Many times over the last few weeks have I had to be reassured by my more experienced team, that this is perfectly normal and we just have to sit tight.
This is where our wonderful 'regulars' have been such a godsend. The customers who come in every day or once or twice a week, every week. The individuals and families who come in every weekend come sunshine or rain.
Some we know by name, we know their families' and their pets' names too. Other we don't know so much except for that they like our coffee, food and atmosphere so much they and keep coming back to enjoy it regularly.
These regular customers mean the world to us, it reassures us that we are getting it right and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you, you know who you are. We are very grateful and appreciate your support very much.
Still, when we end up spending hours deep cleaning the kitchen on a day where we had hoped it would be busy but due to heavy rain the café is almost empty; it can feel scary.
Opening this Café was always a big risk and I can't count how many times well meaning friends and acquaintances tell us:
"Oh it's such a difficult time to start a new business!"
"You are crazy to take this on, how do you find the courage?"
I then insist, that it is a calculated risk and I believe in our concept enough make it work, enough to follow my passion, enough to keep striving to make it work again and again!
But the true answer is yes, it is totally crazy! Where a year ago, before opening the Swedish Den, I thought I was busy and knew pressure; now think that was a doddle in comparison.
Don't get me wrong, I've loved every minute of it so far (honestly, I am not just saying that).
Nevertheless, I do have moments of wondering if I would do it again, had I known what I was really about to take on. The hard work, the emotional ups and downs and the ever present pressure to keep going and pushing..
... then I realise how much the Swedish Den has brought to our life. Not least that instead of thinking I was one of few Swedes in the area, missing my home country, language, food and mentality and now I speak Swedish most days. I am connecting with the surprisingly many Swedes and Sweden fans I never even knew lived here and I find that they feel the same way I do.
Will we make the Swedish Den a success or will it be another one of those tragic stories of how the high street is fading and shops are forced to close?
Will we make the cut when people choose to go to big chain restaurants and shop in malls and out of town shopping estates with free parking instead of coming into our pretty Salisbury town?
Independent businesses are up against it like never before and despite our best efforts we cannot control peoples choices. All we can do is offering personality and uniqueness, hoping that people appreciate how important they are to us and what a difference they makes to us.
Turns out it is all about you dear reader... All the independent shops, cafés and restaurants like the Swedish Den are in your hands really, or to put it even more dramatically, our fate is up to you..
... and then we have days where the café is full and buzzing and all the tables are occupied and I know that we must have captured something and people have welcomed us to Salisbury. When we run out of cups and tables and meatballs we know we are on to a good thing and need to hang in there.
Those busy days, a positive review, a recommendation, retuning customers are what keeps us going so once more I would like to thank every single one of you for being the most important part in making our vision a reality. Thank you! xXx