As things slowly continue to move in a positive direction in our collective battle against COVID-19, and our government begins to slowly restart the economy, we have been thinking long and hard about how we structure our operations over the summer. While we would love to return to our pre-COVID lives, there’s nothing that scares us more than a return to the early days of the pandemic response or the potential of something even worse. A ‘second wave’ of the virus could have catastrophic consequences for our business, our team, and the community around us, and the uncertainty surrounding the coming months still has us feeling concerned. Instead of returning to life as we knew it in the early days of March, we’ve decided to establish a ‘new normal’ at BETA5 for the summer.
When the pandemic response began in mid-March, we collectively held our breath and became fearful of situations and spaces that had previously felt safe. Just prior to closing on March 16, we had implemented a number of changes to how we operated within the café in an effort to make everyone feel more comfortable, but it was clear that these changes weren’t enough. Faced with this fear, and a lot of uncertainty around what a pandemic would mean for our business, we made the difficult decision to close our doors, and shift our business online. This sadly meant that we had to make the decision to temporarily lay off the majority of our team, going from 20 down to 4 quicker than we ever could have imagined. Our hope was that by shrinking our operation we could put ourselves in a better position to recover once the coast was clear. The first couple of weeks were a dark, uncertain time for us, and we didn’t know if we’d make it through Easter.
Your support through all of this has continually amazed us. You ordered our Easter treats for yourself, for friends and for family across the country. You were patient and understanding when shipments were delayed, or when your goodies suffered a bumpier ride than we had planned for. You gave us hope that there was light at the end of this tunnel. In fact, we started to get overwhelmed with orders as Easter approached, and we brought back two of our cooks to help us get through. We started to find a bit of a rhythm through the rest of April, and introduced weekly pickup days so that we could bring back the cream puffs that we all missed so much. As Mother’s Day grew closer, we brought back two more of our cooks, and our team has started to come back together again.
Our top priority has always been the health and safety of our team and our customers. We want to ensure that our workplace is a safe and comfortable space for our team to work in, while making sure our customers feel safe and confident in shopping with us. Now, as we move into the summer and restrictions are being relaxed and lifted, it’s important to us that we have a plan for how we move forward. The idea of ‘social distancing’ has become part of our new normal, and our fears might have eased a bit, but significant uncertainty remains. As a business, we need to establish some sense of certainty around how we move forward, and we think that it’s important for you, our customer, to have the certainty that your trips to shop with us are worthwhile. Over the past few weeks, we have established a system that we feel comfortable with, and until things change significantly, we will continue to offer contactless pickups weekly on Fridays and Saturdays, for orders that have been placed online. We want nothing more than to invite you all back into our still-very-new café, but we wouldn’t want to do it at the expense of the efforts we have all made together over the past 9 weeks.
So for now, here’s what things will look like at BETA5 this summer... we want to keep things fun, interesting, and most importantly safe for everyone and will be offering a rotating menu of cream puffs, ice cream sandwiches, dessert jars, and unique chocolate creations. New products will be released online every week on Monday (Cream Puffs), Tuesday (Ice Cream Sandwiches and Dessert Jars) and Wednesday (all the Chocolate) evening at 8.30pm. We’ll continue to offer Cream Puff Packs with 3 flavours that will rotate on a weekly basis, and we’re working on creating a 3pc box because we know 6 is a lot if you don’t have a few people to share with. Ice Cream Sandwiches and Dessert Jars (back again starting in June) will be available in packs of 4, with flavours rotating every other week, and our Emergency Chocolate Stash Boxes will continue to be available but the contents will rotate monthly instead of weekly starting in June.
We want to make sure that you feel safe and confident in continuing to support us, and that your experience when ordering and picking up you orders is safe and efficient. We’re working to improve our online experience, and trying to find new ways to make the ordering process even easier for you, and we’ve recently integrated our in-store loyalty system into our online store, to make the experience even more seamless. We’ll continue to work to make sure that your pickup experience is quick and easy, and we’re creating additional signage to ensure that the process is clear for everyone. We understand the worry (and frustration) that can come with waiting in line, so we have made the decision to not allow in-store sales in an effort to keep things moving quickly, and we’re proud to say that we have been processing each pickup order in an average of 40 seconds. We’ll continue to be conscious of lineups, and making sure that things don’t get too out of control, and we will make adjustments to our system if we feel anyone’s safety is being put at risk.
We’re so grateful for your patience, understanding and support through all of this. We understand that the experience will feel a bit different than the days before COVID. The choices we’ve made weren’t made lightly, and we feel that they are important to ensuring everyone’s health and safety, along with the long-term health of BETA5 during what is still a time of great uncertainty. Things will feel a lot different this summer, but we’ll continue to do our best in bringing a bit of joy to your life through our tasty creations.
We look forward to seeing you soon!