We have lift-off!

Well, the in-store cafe has finally been launched and ‘early doors’ say ‘GREAT!’

We opened for our most special – Loyalty Card – customers on Friday for free tastings and a general first-in-the-queue smooch.  It was a very close shave getting everything ready in time and even as late as ten past six, yours truly was to be found in the women’s customer toilets whacking down floor tiles as quickly as I could.  Martin had trouble getting the XP computer to talk to the till receipt printer (what is it about Microsoft software that makes everything so complicated?) so the till training was done in situ as it were.  There’s nothing like learning your craft – or in this case, customer service skills – in front of your customers to encourage speedy learning!

The feedback has been amazing but what most amazed us was how much interest customers had in the fact that food was sourced from local farms and suppliers than it being organic.  One customer said that he simply expects food to be organic these days and won’t buy it if it’s not.

The proof of the pudding though is in the eating and today – Saturday – we opened the doors to everyone with the minimal amount of publicity and the cafe was busy. Word-of-mouth has ensured that a lot of people – both old customers and new – have heard about the new cafe in Worthing.

The hottest tip is the chocolate cake which because it’s made without flour to make more room for the chocolate is also gluten free.   Try the organic chocolate buttons with the coffee.  How about a vegetarian ploughman’s lunch served with a choice of localy produced cheeses: the hot tip in this case is definitely the goat’s cheese rolled in chilli.

Some pictures – with captions – of the grand venture:

Baristas in training

The cafe isn’t open yet – nor even fully fitted – but the day after the plumber connected the water supply and the coffee machine was installed, the nice people from Gaia Cafe brought in the nice people from Union Coffee Masters to show how to make the best coffee in Sussex.

Our first two customers

The very first paying customer  in the cafe was our very own Buying Manager, Sarah Meadham, little seen and very shy,  Sarah is the reason why we have such a great range of books in-store (and if she knew I’d posted this photograph…)

Emily the Barista

This is Emily making the very first ‘paid for’ coffee.  From now on, the ‘practice’ is for real and there is no turning back.  This is the point when the dream became OMG.

Val’s flowers

I had to show these flowers… These were a ‘Good Luck’ gift from Valerie, the former manager, now in charge of our branch at Gosport who thought we may like a centre-piece in the shop.  Well, here’s the proof that they were centre-stage, right in the middle of our recently re-vamped first floor.  Thank you Val, they are beautiful!

Penguin Classics

And I had to show these off!  These are exactly what they appear to be which is mugs on a shelf but take a closer look… these are the mugs you get to use when you order a large drink.  Mugs styled on the original cover designs of the Penguin Paperback classics.  The ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ has already been sold this afternoon!

Full house!

Full House!  You ripper, sport!  We got a cafe full of customers on our first night!

Our youngest customers

And just for the ‘Aaaah!’ factor, I had to include this picture to show our customers are of all ages and sizes and the website is so easy to use that dad’s can keep a safe watch from a distance.

Thank you to all those customers who helped make the launch of Gaia Cafe such a success!

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