Community cafés: Is it the right time to open one?


As the UK eases itself back to normality, the need for community and companionship is felt more keenly than ever – so is now the right time to open a community café within your church? We look at some of the factors to consider before you take the plunge – and give you a few pointers to help you get started if you do.


Demand
Could a café at your church provide a much-needed hub in your community after lockdown – be it for your congregation or the wider neighbourhood? Ask around to gauge what role your café could fill, whether it’s as an affordable lunch spot or as a safe place for people to gather. Although restrictions are now easing, it’s also important to think about how your café could safely operate in a post-lockdown world: from air circulation to spatial requirements.

Space
How much space do you have at your disposal? A smaller kitchen and dining area might have been serviceable in the past, but thanks to the pandemic, premises now need to consider social distancing, both in the kitchen and front-of-house. Even once restrictions are over, it’s likely that people will be looking for large, airy spaces over smaller, cramped cafes.

You may want to look at extending or remodelling your kitchen to increase available space, or could even build a new, made for purpose kitchen/café building on church grounds (such as the site of an old scout hall or storage facility).

Safety first
Health and safety are more important than ever. If you’re going to open a community café, make sure you have a space that is easy to keep hygienically clean and in good working order. Is your current kitchen up to the task? Take a moment to consider its age, the materials it’s made from, accessibility, fresh air circulation and any important safety issues like loose tiles or crumbling kickboards. It may be time to invest in a new kitchen that’s up to the task of supporting a busy café safely.

A semi-commercial kitchen is an affordable and effective choice: more durable than any kitchen with MDF or chipboard (like a domestic kitchen) but warmer and less severe in appearance than a fully-commercial steel model, it’s ideal for a community café, whether it’ll be run by professionals or volunteers.

If you’re exploring the idea of a community café and want some friendly advice on how a semi-commercial kitchen would work in your space, contact the Steelplan Kitchens team on 0844 809 9186. We’ve created semi-commercial kitchens for churches up and down the UK, and can discuss your plans, our products and how to create the perfect kitchen for you and your community

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