Relief on menu as popular Mansfield cafe welcomes back indoor customers
Excitement and relief have been added to the menu at a popular Mansfield cafe this week after the return of indoor customers.
The Bakers Shop Cafe, which is tucked away on Maun Close, off Hermitage Lane, has been tickling our tastebuds for 20 years.
But Amanda Shetliffe, who runs the business with husband Mark, freely admits it nearly went under as the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns sank their teeth into the hospitality trade.
Thankfully, like dozens of cafes, restaurants and pubs across the Mansfield and Ashfield area, Monday was a day of celebration for The Bakers Shop because it could welcome back customers inside the premises, as well as outside, after the latest easing of restrictions.
"It’s been amazing to see them back,” said Amanda, 53. “Wonderful customers who have stayed with us from the start.
"We have been celebrating with prosecco, and we’ve been giving away some little cakes.
"It has been quite a struggle, and we were close to thinking we wouldn’t survive.
"For seven months, Mark and myself didn’t earn anything, and most of the staff were on furlough.
"We had just enough money to pay the rent and to keep the wholesale bakery side of the business going. But it was a close shave.”
Amanda, a cook, who started out as a school-dinner lady, and Mark, 55, a baker, decided to set up their own business after “working for other people for so long”.
“We opened a tiny shop in South Normanton, which did really well, but we wanted to move back to Mansfield,” explained Amanda.
"The cafe has expanded ever since. It is a busy, independent business that we are so proud of.
"We have our own in-house bakery, and everything we serve is home-made on the premises.
”We offer afternoon tea for ladies to fry-ups with a mug of tea for builders – plus everything in between!
"At the moment, we have seating for 36 inside and 24 outside, where we have new decking and a pagoda.
"And we have 12 amazing staff, many of whom have been with us for a long time.”
Although The Bakers Shop continued with its bread deliveries to other local businesses during the first lockdown last year, it was some time before it was able to do takeaways.
And although outdoor trade restarted last month, the good news was dampened by the callous theft of much of the cafe’s seating.
"It was bolted down to the decking, but they undrilled it one Sunday afternoon,” said Amanda.
"Thankfully, the police are on to it and say they have a lead. And the sympathetic feedback we received was heartwarming. The landlord at the Ling Forest Inn even donated two picnic benches to us.”
Now the cafe is firmly on its way back to normal at last, and emotions have been running high this week.
"Some of our customers were quite tearful because they were so glad to be back,” said Amanda.
"Many elderly customers used to come in five days a week because we do meals such as roast dinners, and they have really missed the company and a chat.
"Over the last year or so, it has been quite stressful. But we love this cafe.
"The only way to move forward is to be passionate about what you do.”