2020 has without a doubt been our most challenging year at the GBs.
Thinking back to the hopelessness we all felt as we were closed down in March with no idea of what the future would hold. Surrounded around a TV like it was the World Cup final, Boris blazing the winning penalty over the bar as he shut hospitality down, our team looked on in silence in what felt like defeat.
In that first lockdown, we made the unbearable but ultimately sensible decision to shut our sites completely and support the phenomenal efforts of so many to combat this horrible illness. So little was known of the virus at that point that we couldn’t open in a safe way. For hospitality, our purpose is to serve, to be there for people. It was like having a super power taken away, being physically close to people was quite literally the worst thing we could do. So what now?
That feeling of hopelessness lasted for an evening. On the morning of Saturday 21st March, it became clear that we were not going to lie down and allow our business to fail, we were going to fight to the bitter end. We were determined to keep things going however we could and the reaction from staff was overwhelming. Ideas were flying around, there were numerous suggestions of how we could carry on. It was imperative that no matter how hard things were that we stuck to our values and did what we could to support our various communities as well as keeping the business afloat. So many selfless acts have been undertaken by so many people this year, and we couldn’t be prouder of our own small role and the effort that everyone involved in the GBs has made this year to carry on.
We often try to define and describe our tagline of ‘well-mannered coffee’ and what it means with anecdotes and examples. There is no better anecdote or example than the way the people around us have conducted themselves this year. Being there for strangers, being there for each other and being utterly committed to trying to provide that Gentleman Baristas experience in whatever way possible.
We’re an optimistic company and so it is only right to think about the hope we feel for the future. Whilst not wanting to ignore or forget the obvious struggles that so many people, ourselves included, are still going through in the fight against Covid-19, it is right that we look at the positives from this harrowing year.
Running a business, you’re constantly questioning your decisions. Is this the right direction? Should we be doing this? 2020 has allowed us to realign. To absolutely define our purpose and what it is that we do. Our commitment to delivering well-mannered coffee in whatever shape or form has never been stronger and we go into 2021, expecting it to be a challenge, but with renewed energy and determination. We never fell out of love with coffee, but without sounding corny, our love for it now is greater than ever!
We’d like to finish this typically long-winded ramble with a collective thank you to anyone who has been involved with the GBs this year. To all of our staff for their monumental effort in keeping on, to all of our suppliers and landlords for their understanding and constant support, to every person that has bought coffee from us, online or in house and to the thousands of people who have interacted with us on social media wishing us well and helping us to spread our message. So many people have done so much for us this year and it is that effort by others that keeps you going.
2020 - we can’t say that we’ve liked you, but you’ve taught us so much about ourselves that you will be an important year nonetheless.
2021 - we can’t wait to meet you. Hope you like coffee.
Happy New Year,
Ed, Henry and the GB team