“It’s really important to us to ensure we support our local economy and community.”
Baker Street Kitchen is one of the artisan gems of Middlesbrough’s Independent quarter. Chloe Tempestoso caught up with Managing Director Simon Baker, 33, in the middle of the lockdown to find out more about his business and how it’s adapting to the current situation.
What’s the story behind your story?
I have worked in the hospitality and catering industry for sixteen years and even as a child I wanted my own restaurant. After opening and managing Cena for three years, I decided it was time to take the leap and take on my own business. I saw Baker Street Kitchen advertised and I took the leap! Baker Street Kitchen was already trading as a café and I saw potential to build on what the previous owners had created and develop it further. Two years ago, I invested heavily, giving the business a full refurbishment, which was really exciting, to take it to the next level. It has really taken off since then and I have now taken the leap to take on a second business. I am in the process of taking on a new wedding venue, hotel and restaurant, based in the Tees Valley too, which I am hoping will be able to launch next year. Wedding enquiries welcome!
How did you come up with the name Baker Street Kitchen?
As an established business when I bought it, Baker Street Kitchen was already named and trading. I think the name reflects what we offer. A kitchen is the social hub of the home for relaxing food. I like to think we are the kitchen of Middlesbrough, and by naming it after Baker Street, it links well to the logo which is styled similar to the London Underground signs, like Baker Street Station.
What type of products and services do you offer your customers?
We are best known for our tasty breakfasts, brunch, lunch, light bites, cakes and coffee, with extensive good quality options. I think all our customers come to see the friendly team here too. My team certainly are a huge asset and make Baker Street Kitchen the success that it is. All our menu options are served all day everyday including breakfast! On Sundays we offer a tasty classic Sunday roast lunch, alongside the regular menu. All these options can be enjoyed in our spacious bistro or on our outdoor terrace… weather permitting! We try our best to source locally. Most of our many different suppliers are not far away, our coffee is from Middleton-In-Teesdale, our cakes are from a bakery in North Yorkshire, our cleaning supplies are from Darlington, and our general food supplies are from providers based in Middlesbrough too. It’s really important to us to ensure we support our local economy and community.
How has the Covid crisis affected your business?
We closed following the government guidance. Unfortunately, due to the sort of market we serve, we haven’t been able to offer a take away only service that would have been financially viable, which has meant the full team of eighteen employees have all had to be furloughed, which does place a certain amount of burden and guilt on me as an owner. I really value the team, so their wellbeing is important to me. We were unlucky when it came to the government grants. They offered £10,000 for businesses with rateable value less than £15,000 and offered £25,000 to those with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Our rateable value is £14,750, meaning, disappointingly we missed out on the bigger grant by a small margin. This has meant taking out a further loan to sustain cashflow for wages and pay any residual bills that have not been able to be cancelled or deferred. However, the help that has been provided by government has been hugely helpful to us all.
What’s changed for your business since Covid?
We are not planning to push too hard to drive sales further, we are busy now and the eat out scheme has been really helpful. However, it is important that we keep our team and customers safe which has been our focus since reopening our business.
You can find Baker Street Kitchen located on 159 Albert Road, Middlesbrough on the edge of Baker Street.
Interview by Chloe Tempestoso
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