It is rare for me to write from the comfort of my own kitchen table. Despite the current pandemic, if I was not in self-isolation; you can sure-bet that I’d typing away from a local coffee shop right now.
For me, and for many others I’m sure, Birmingham’s independent coffee shops are not just places to sit and drink. These creative caffeine hubs are the very fabric of our community. For years, with one-too-many cortados to keep me company, I have written some of my best stories from these coffee shops. I have had memorable conversations with strangers; and laughed with family and friends.
But since the dark clouds of the coronavirus crisis have been lingering over us, it is hard to predict what the future of these beloved coffee shops will be.
One such place that is close to my heart, is Yorks Café and Coffee Roasters. Ideally located on Stephenson Street, Birmingham (just a stone’s throw away from New Street Station), the main branch is known to welcome a hubbub of businesspeople, freelancers, single mums with joyful toddlers, and shoppers alike.
The concept is simple. An unpretentious coffee shop built first and foremost, on love and passion. I first noticed this brand a few years ago (when I had just set-up Neely There). They had always been one of the handful of coffee shops in the city centre, that would practice things like “paying it forward” and helping the needy.
Now; and it breaks my heart to say, Yorks Café need us.
As it currently stands, the PM’s recent advice for people in the UK to avoid all coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, and bars (without officially shutting them down) has been catastrophic for the industry. For independents like Yorks, this is a challenge that they will struggle to overcome alone.
In a recent article, founder of Yorks Simon Ford, explained that the business’s priority is to ensure that their hardworking staff have a place to sleep every night and can afford to feed their families. To keep their team on the same income every month, they need to raise £35,000 (every month), which without many guests, is near-impossible to do.
Whilst the beautiful team at Yorks work hard to figure out a way of serving their guests remotely, we as a community, can rally-up and support one of Birmingham’s most cherished independents, in various ways.
Please note, that I am no position to offer “medical advice” and can of course, only speak for myself. However, once I am relieved from self-isolation (so long as I am feeling completely better), I will continue to visit Yorks on Stephenson Street for my daily, take-out coffees. A few pounds for a double-shot may not sound like much; but at this point my friends, every little helps.
The business also has a gofundme page, where they are accepting donations from kind people who are willing to help their cafes survive. You can find out more information and get involved here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-our-cafe-workers
Lastly, it has become more important than ever to continue talking. There is still a lot of uncertainty about what is going to happen over the coming weeks; however, what we can guarantee is that the hospitality industry is going to need our collective support.
The industry and businesses like Yorks are made-up of people, many of whom are fearing for their livelihoods right now. Please continue to spread the word; and if you feel well enough, treat yourself to a cup of Joe from the team at Yorks.
They will be absolutely delighted to see you.