East Brighton Park is a beautiful part of our city next to the Sheepcote Valley nature reserve. The park café was recently taken over by Stephen and Marilyn, a couple with years of cooking experience between them and a shared love of food.
After renovating and reopening the café at the start of 2020, their new business plans were scuppered when just 5 weeks after their launch they had to shut their doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown.
Having been looking forward to becoming a bustling community venue, they were disappointed to have to close before many local residents had even found out they had opened!
Despite the difficult situation, Stephen and Marilyn didn’t lose hope “We had to improvise and we started doing a takeout every Saturday from our home. This consisted of a three-course meal featuring a South African-Indian menu. We kept ourselves busy by cooking weekly meals for the infectious disease team at the Royal Sussex Hospital. This brought us joy as the staff really appreciated the food during a difficult time.”
During the lockdown, Stephen attended our area networking for the East Brighton area which we’d moved online and were hosting via Zoom. Through this he met Claire Burchell, our citywide manager, who subsequently went along to the café to meet the pair, offer support and try their delicious samosas. It turned out to be great timing – through relationships she’d built up in the area, Claire connected the café with the trustees of the local Due East neighbourhood council. They invited the café to write an article for their community newsletter, the perfect opportunity to introduce themselves to local people and announce when they would be open again. The well-read newsletter was delivered to households right across the East Brighton area, telling hundreds of potential customers about the café.
Since lockdown measures lifted, the café is now back open seven days a week from ten till five. Their menu features a fusion of classic breakfast/brunch dishes alongside some tasty Indian delights as well as a selection of ice creams and delicious local organic coffee. The café continues to operate a takeaway menu after their Saturday takeaway offer during lockdown was so well received. For the month of August the takeaway menu, known as the Durban Curry Club, will be available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and on these days customers dining in the café will also be able to take advantage of the government Eat Out to Help Out scheme for 50% off their meals.
After the lockdown having had such an impact on this small, independent start-up business, the local neighbourhood council was able to support the café to stay afloat by raising awareness and helping them to integrate with the local community. East Brighton Park is a beautiful outdoor space and as people begun to spend more time out of their homes the footfall to the café has increased. The café is easy for Whitehawk residents to get to and perfectly placed for people enjoying the park and getting some exercise and fresh air. Local people now have the chance to spend their money at a family-run café providing vital facilities to those spending time in their local green space.