In a former life, Granny and hubby owned and ran a cafe in the centre of Norwich. At the time, it was we think, one of the first to house a cappuccino machine and to sport outside tables, a very un-British thing to do given our summer weather. But it was clearly the way to go given the amount of foreign travel people were undertaking.
Very soon competition began to grow. The department stores began to put refreshment outlets on several floors as meeting up in coffee shops (never tea-shops), become a pleasant pass-time. Any establishments that could find an inch of outdoor space squeezed on tables wherever and whenever possible.
Granny remembers beginning to notice the alarming rate that food outlets were mushrooming around us (pardon the pun!) pizza chains, coffee stops and sandwich bars but now she simply cannot believe just how many more eateries there are in the City. Naturally most of the big coffee-shop chains are well represented, especially since not one but two shopping malls have been built. It seems that every other vacated shop has turned into a cafe of one kind or another and yes, welcome once more to the return of speciality tea- houses!
Granny loved serving the public who by and large were very appreciative of her home-cooking and cheery approach. She cannot count the number of times a customer said wistfully it was their dream to open a little place like ours. Ah yes, from the other side of the counter all must have seemed sweetness and light but just try cooking all your own cakes and gateaux, making gallons of soup and judging how many jacket potatoes to put in the oven or bacon to prepare and at the end of the day, sweeping and mopping. Like many things, it's not quite so easy as it first appears...
Granny and hubby prided themselves on swift, friendly service and so cannot help being slightly judgemental about others when we are out. On the other hand it has given us great empathy. Only this morning when we called at a small local establishment for cappuccinos and found them clearly overwhelmed, hubby set to and cleared all their outside tables for them!