Yate cafe's help for people in lockdown helps it win award
STAFF at a Yate cafe have won a high-profile business award.
The Vintage Birdcage Cakery's win in the café category at the Bristol Life Awards 2020 recognised not only the cafe's success over the past year in growing the business, but also for making and distributing hundreds of free meals during the national coronavirus lockdown.
For Nicole Jones, who owns and runs the café, finding out that they had won was anything but glamorous.
She said: “It was via Zoom because they couldn’t hold an awards ceremony as usual.
"I was sitting in my bedroom, then all of a sudden the presenter said the winner is…and I had 30 seconds to a minute to say a little speech.
"It was one of those weird things. I just thought it wouldn’t be us because we were up against so many incredible eateries around Bristol."
Nicole had entered the Bristol Life Awards before, but this is the first time her café has won, beating five others in the same category.
The judges are looking for what has made the past year successful, what new ideas have worked, how well the café brings in repeat custom, and whether it gives visitors a memorable experience. They described the Vintage Birdcage Cakery, on Stanshawes Court Drive, near Kingsgate Park, as a "beautiful idiosyncratic destination".
Nicole said: “The Birdcage is my life. I’m one of those people who has to read every single bit of feedback and it eats me inside out if something has gone wrong. I won’t rest until it has been sorted – things sadly do go wrong, it happens, but you need to hop on them – it’s personal for me.
"When I go out I want it to be perfect, I understand our customers want that too."
The Vintage Birdcage Cakery also stood out from other entries for how it served its community during the Coronavirus lockdown, when Nicole, her team and local volunteers worked around the clock to provide food for 450 people every day of the week.
But the project won’t be repeated if restrictions are tightened again.
Nicole said: “I have thought about this, but my business wouldn’t survive.
"If furlough existed, as before, I would be straight back on it. What the government did was amazing because it enabled us to call in volunteers and furlough everybody and carry on."
Picture: Nicole Jones and Vintage bridcage cakery staff celebrate after receiving the Bristol Life award. Photo courtesy of Emily Ball Photography