UK Manchester couple defy the odds and launch thriving cafe during pandemic last minute news
PremierLeague-News.Com- 'I think the lockdown has made people appreciate what’s available on their local doorstep'
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Opening a business in the middle of lockdown could be seen as a risky move. But for Adam Porrino and Tess Parkinson, it was a no brainer. The couple launched Cafe Blah, a coffee shop and art gallery, on Wilmslow Road in Withington in September. “It didn’t really feel like a risk to us,” Adam, 29, tells the Manchester Evening News . “We felt like there was never going to be a moment like this again where we had so much free time on our hands.” Read More Related Articles Wetherspoon boss wants pubs to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops - but expert warns of going back to 'square one' Read More Related Articles Huge £1bn 'urban living' development opposite Trafford Centre edges one step closer The idea to open the cafe-gallery hybrid came about during the first lockdown when the couple of two years decided they wanted to venture into business together. When a two-storey retail unit became vacant close by to their house, they saw it as the perfect sign. The pair joined forces with friend Lizzy Pilling, who has run A Curious Collection in Withington since 2019, who moved her existing business upstairs. Cafe Blah owners Adam Porrino and Tess Parkinson (Image: CHARLOTTE WELLINGS) Adam quit his job working in music in Burnley while Tess cut back on freelance art projects in order to put their resources together towards making the new business work. “We just jumped right into it,” Adam explains. “We both went into it knowing we’d make less money than previously, but we decided that we didn’t mind as long as it was something we enjoyed doing. “We wanted to create something where people could hang out, spend a bit of time and sit for a few hours. "We knocked the middle wall through and, with Lizzy’s business upstairs, we’ve created this community hub that has a real mini-Afflecks vibe to it.” In an unlikely move, Cafe Blah opened during the height of the pandemic. (Image: CHARLOTTE WELLINGS) With little money on the table, the pair put their creative skills to good use by painting and decorating the cafe themselves. When possible, they sourced most of the furniture and appliances online. “We started collecting bits from eBay, Gumtree, and places like that,” Adam explains. “We bought a coffee machine for a hundred quid off Facebook that can usually go for thousands. “Tess built the front bar and painted it herself. We’ve done it all over a long period of time and it's so cheap that we felt that it really can’t go that wrong.” Cafe Blah is adjoined with A Curious Collection on Wilmslow Road.
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. While adhering social distancing measures, the cafe was packed out and the couple hosted film screenings and resident DJ nights. Two months later, the government imposed restrictions that meant that the blossoming business had to close its doors. Cafe Blah has not been able to reopen since, but it’s given Adam and Tess the perfect opportunity to hone in on what worked so well during their brief launch. “It’s a bit surreal really because we had a manic few months and we’re now wanting to get back into the routine of things,” Adam adds.
Adam and Tess have been together for two years and both have a background in arts and music.
“With this time, we’ve been able to properly suss out the things that worked and what didn’t, while also finishing up bits and pieces ready for when we can reopen. “Because there’s just us two running it, we’ve not had to struggle with how to financially support furloughed staff or things like that. “In our heads, we’re thinking that we might not be able to reopen until the end of April or early May but obviously it’s still up in the air.” Adam says that Withington is the perfect location for their business as it’s an area that is really championing local business. “Living in a student area will always have creative things going on but it does seem like there’s a big push in Withington to open up a variety of different things,” he says.
The owners hope that Cafe Blah will become a staple venue in Withington.
(Image: CHARLOTTE WELLINGS)
“Despite the lockdown, there’s such a buzz in the area at the moment thanks to things like the Withington Walls street art project. “We had such a nice launch and, in such a short space of time, we’ve been able to build up a loyal base and get some regulars. “We’ve had so many nice comments from people who are passionate about us opening and saying it’s just what the area needs.” Eventually, when Cafe Blah is able to reopen, Adam and Tess say they hope that their business will play a big role in the local area's future. “I think this lockdown has shown many people that they don’t need to venture out into the city centre as much,” Adam adds.
“People have really appreciated what’s available on their local doorstep. "Going forward, we really want to play a part in the community spirit of Withington. “We decided to jump into this and leave our jobs for it, so we have no choice but to make it a success now.” You can follow Cafe Blah on Facebook and Instagram.
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