The pace of change in Altrincham has left some people behind, say the husband and wife team behind Bap. They’re on a mission to make sure no-one is forgotten.
If the Covid pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of looking after your nearest and dearest. In business terms, that means your customers.
Altrincham café Bap is no different to any high street independent in relying on a loyal customer base, but the service it provides on a daily basis sets it apart.
Marta Malina, who with husband Dom Richards runs the George Street cafe, says: “Many of our older customers missed the interaction with staff and other customers while Covid restrictions were in place. We had countless customers that had not set foot outside their front doors for months and subsequently became very isolated and lonely.
“One of the first places they visited was Bap, seeing staff they had not seen for months and relaxing with a coffee and a tea cake and a catch-up with friends in similar situations. It can be at times quite upsetting to see the emotion and relief when they are finally able to sit down and try to get their lives back to some kind of normality.”
While many outlets scaled back their offering during Covid, Marta and Dom knew the importance of offering continuity and familiarity for their customers.
Marta adds: “During the pandemic, most businesses reduced menus, restricted opening times and refused cash as a payment. Bap did not want to go down that road. If you want your favourite filling in a jacket potato there is nothing worse than being told ‘due to Covid we have a reduced menu’ and then you settle for something only to be told ‘sorry no cash’. This is not serving the customer what they want – it’s doing what’s right for the business, not the customer.
“At Bap we could not do that – our customers are our lifeblood and we want to offer them what THEY want not what we want to sell them.”
Dom says that while the pace of Altrincham’s regeneration in recent years had been incredible, it had left many people behind.
“Altrincham has changed so much in the last few years – it has gone from having the greatest percentage of vacant retail shops (according to The Sun) to a thriving hub lauded as the blueprint and the saviour of the British high street.
“The needs of some customer groups have been largely forgotten – in short, Altrincham is very much catering for a new younger generation of high street shoppers.”
Bap started off in 2005 as a sandwich shop – but it’s actually much more than that these days.
“We still make great baguettes with fresh ingredients right in front of you,” says Marta, “but we also have excellent jacket potatoes, wraps, a full English breakfast, paninis, toasties and burritos at any time of the day.”
Drinks-wise it’s now coffees, speciality teas, fruit smoothies, ice cold frappes, soft drinks – and a new range of vodka and gin cocktails.
Indeed, the decision to diversify during lockdown and build a distillery upstairs has introduced a whole new customer to Bap.
Dom says: “We believe we are the only business producing gin, vodka and rums in the town centre, and we’ve recently added new flavours of gin: plum and rhubarb, and pink grapefruit and cranberry.”
Marta adds: “The launch of the alcohol has propelled Bap into being far more than just a sandwich shop. Afternoons have become busier with customers enjoying drinks outside in the seating area – we have kept all seating distanced so everyone feels comfortable.”
Bap has also just started distilling gin exclusively for Altrincham Football Club.
All in all, Marta and Dom feel Bap is as well-placed as it’s ever been to face the years ahead.
“Bap is there for all to enjoy,” concludes Marta. “We are a husband and wife team who will always offer a very warm welcome for all our regular customers and like to believe we offer a great first time experience to ensure all newcomers become regulars.”
Bap, 127 George St, Altrincham WA14 1RN. For more information about Vokini, Ginkini and Pig & Wolf drinks, visit vokinidrinks.com.