2020 has been a pivotal year for us; one with its lows but definitely its highs too. We've been really lucky with all that has happened and our health. This is the year we have started to make the old pub our home but our business too, we've settled into the community, had some fun and begun expanding Sweet Things Savoury with new services and new ventures. It has been quite a year and as I sit here writing this, and looking back over the months, the hard work and love and passion have all been really worth it and we are so looking forward to 2021 and what it will bring. Let's have a stroll back through 2020 to see what we got up to!
The beginning of the year started with work on the old pub lounge converting it from tired old bar to brand-spanking new commercial kitchen and office. It has been fantastic to hear the wonderful comments from customers as they've popped in and seen the changes, remembering it from what it was.
As the spring arrived our first big launch of the year took place with our lunch time hot meal delivery service being available to residents of Wisbech and the surrounding areas. This has really taken off and we love chatting to our regulars on our rounds whilst welcoming new customers for adhoc meals. They rather took to our new range of cocktail cupcakes too - as did many of you! WhataHoot gin, Fen Spirits and Birdhouse Brewery have become good friends and fantastic suppliers of alcohols that compliment our baked goods to perfection.
By the time we got to June, our Afternoon Teas had taken off like a rocket, we couldn't keep up with demand! So, we expanded our range and added the Posh Afternoon Tea and Chocolate Lover's Afternoon Tea to the Traditional. Since then we have also added a Vegan Afternoon Tea as well as a Gentleman's Afternoon Tea, with or without Birdhouse Brewery Ale. They've been a fantastic success and even the limited edition Festive Afternoon Tea was welcomed with open arms by our customers, our record being 35 going out in one day!
Over the summer, we turned our attention to the outside of the building and got rid of the dirty, off white look in favour of a cool bluey/green colour to match one of our logo colours. It certainly brightened things up and then Marty and Riley set to, building a large herb garden out the front which has been perfect, providing the kitchen with fresh herbs.
Dessert Nights - wow you guys love them! Homemade, handmade and freshly made waffles, churros, cookie dough and milkshakes flew out the door each weekend from August. Not to mention the dessert of the week which changes weekly but includes things like Bailey's Cheesecake and Sticky Toffee Pudding with Caramel Sauce. This service was extra special for us as it was driven by our second oldest son, Nathan, who heads up these evenings weekly with us. Although we had to stop the dessert weekends during December to make way for all the Christmas orders, we'll be re-opening them every Saturday and Sunday from 4-8pm from the 8th Jan 2021, delivery or collection available.
Also over the summer, working behind the scenes, the team and I developed our new range of do it yourself baking kits, everything from G&T cupcakes to Gluten, Diary & Soya free brownies. Everything from designing the packaging to the tweaking of recipes was completed in secret and we launched them in the autumn. I cannot tell you how well they have been received online and at the events we have been able to attend in the run up to Christmas. We are so chuffed with how much people have liked them.
One thing we really wanted to concentrate on this year was getting out and about in the community more. Slightly hampered obviously, but not impossible thank goodness. So, we did a couple of events looking a bit rough and ready before we purchased our very own branded gazebo and got ready for the farmers markets and Christmas markets. Marty has been in his element, meeting and greeting customers - despite the rain on many occasions! Attending the Marshland Hall farmers market has been really special as it is on our doorstep and we've had people returning monthly for a box of our cupcakes. We've been sold out in the first hour and a half on the last two occasions! Peterborough Cathedral and Holkham Hall in December were also wonderful events that really started to make us feel Christmassy.
The number of corporates that we have supplied over this year has increased, so not only do we supply some local tea rooms with cakes, we continue to create edible works of art for Mars for all their retirements, congratulations and leaving cakes as well as their training lunches. We have also baked 'thank you' and proposal cakes for businesses such as West Norfolk Web Design and corporate gifts such as Christmas cakes and afternoon teas for companies such as Wheelers Accountants and Paul Smith Landscaping. Providing the catering for Sovereign Quarter Horses riding courses has been brilliant fun, you can't beat a good chilli! We very much hope to be able to pick up working with other businesses that have had to cease their face to face meetings such as King's Lynn Innovation Centre and BNI again as early as possible in the new year. A new relationship with Proudly Norfolk has also been amazing, and we are now part of their new app so customers can support local businesses by quickly and easily finding local food suppliers and producers.
Joining in with the village events has been lots of fun. Scarecrow Day back in the summer was amazing, so many of the Emneth village families joining in. Then we got dressed up for Halloween as vampiresses, ghosts and ghouls. Hopefully there will be more opportunity to hold these events and more next year.
We are so chuffed with the new online shop we launched in early November (www.SweetThingsSavoury.com). It enables us to showcase all our creations, and this year there has been everything from an inhaler to a life like penguin, a Doc Martin to a French Bulldog! The website will be a fantastic platform for us to work with in 2021, getting the baking kits further afield and taking more orders from friends and relatives around the UK, wanting to purchase gifts for those living local to us. It also makes ordering for our customers easier as it can be done 24/7, whenever it suits you.
Our VIP Club, Sweet Things, launched back in June, continues to grow in number. We'd really like to thank our VIPer's especially for their support and loyalty and we hope they loved their individual mini Christmas cakes, they looked so cute!
Talking of growing numbers, we now have in excess of 180 online 5 star reviews, between Facebook, Google and Scoot. Thank you so much to everyone as your feedback is very much appreciated by the team. This has been the busiest December, and in fact year we have ever had and we can only hope to build on the successes going forward.
On a personal note, some of you will remember our big dog, Tyson, well we sadly lost him a month ago but at about the same time, our eldest Martin announced that we are to be grandparents in the late spring so it is an exciting time which has helped to temper the sadness. In a nutshell, from our business perspective, our plans include taking Riley on as an official apprentice in July when he becomes old enough to join the scheme, to expand our range of baking kits, to build the new café on the side of the pub so that we can become the community hub we'd love to be and start to employ some more local people. So all in all, it has been a remarkable year and we can't wait to see what the next 12 months bring. There is so much to look forward to and we leap into 2021 full of excitement.
We hope that despite all that has been thrown at you this year, there have still been many good times, many laughs, many triumphs and the changes are ones you have been able to adapt to and learn from.
We say goodbye to one remarkable year and hello to hopefully another!
Lots of love