COVID-19: Good news stories

COVID-19 Good News Story: Olby’s Soul Café

15 April 2020
3 minute read

Jhanvi Gudka

Olby’s Soul Café first appeared on the scene in Margate two decades ago and over the years has evolved into what it is today – a family-run soul music café serving a Caribbean-inspired Sunday Roast, or as it’s more commonly known #bestroastonthecoast. The concept was tested a couple of years ago and went from welcoming 20 customers when it first opened its doors, to being fully booked for all three services on a Sunday and voted #2 for the best roast in the county by the people of Kent. 

However, despite the success and popularity of the Afrocaribbean-British café, Olby’s has not been immune to the impact of Covid-19 and like many other small businesses, they were forced to stop trading ahead of Mother’s Day where they were expecting record footfall. Olby’s recognised that they simply could not afford to close, so they decided to invest in some takeaway packaging, email their customers to inform them of a new delivery service and just like that they transformed their business model overnight. 

And the results speak for themselves. Mother’s Day saw Olby’s deliver 260 roasts in one day – nearly double what they expected – and the following weeks brought similar numbers. It turns out that even in isolation, everyone loves a roast! Olby’s has also used the power of social media to expand their reach and engage with new and prospective customers through a series of campaigns. The latest is its Heart of Gold campaign where they are giving away two 2-course Sunday lunches every week to anyone their customers nominate. 

Olby’s is a brilliant example of how you can keep customers loyal and grow your business in times of uncertainty and the change is often not as drastic as it initially seems. Such has been the success of the new delivery service that it is something Olby’s are planning to keep running when business resumes as normal again. 

Eli Thompson, Olby’s founder, closes our conversation by sharing a piece of advice for any others in the restaurant industry: ‘If you don’t think you have a product that is in high enough demand, don’t forget that your kitchen is a huge asset. It allows for food to be cooked at scale so think about who you can team up with in your community and how you can make use of what you have by drawing on the suppliers, network and skills that others may be able to provide.’ 

We wish Olby’s Soul Café continuing success and we hope they maintain their reputation as #bestroastonthecoast for many years to come! 


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