Enterprising small bakery adapts to keep serving the community

Mor Bakery, Stratford upon Avon

A small bakery in Stratford-upon-Avon which opened its doors just a month ago, has had to think fast to adapt to the new retail reality.

David Pearson of Mor Bakery in Bell Court, had long dreamed of starting up a sourdough bakery, using traditional techniques to create organic bread and pastries, but his timing couldn’t have been worse. He found himself opening up in the midst of a pandemic.

Like all small outlets in the food industry, it was hit hard by the Government’s social distancing regulations – but David and his team refused to buckle.

He built a small serving hatch to enable the business to serve customers while observing social distancing. The hatch is open from 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday – and business is  booming as it continues to offer essential supplies to the community.

“MOR was always going to be an adventure,” said David. “We just thought it would be framed around the bakery and kitchen and all the usual trials and tribulations that come with opening a new business. Instead, we were thrown into adapting in order that both us and the community around us survived.

“In normal times, over 30% of food eaten in the UK is provided by restaurants and pubs. We realised that, as restaurants and pubs were ordered to close, food supply chains needed to be redirected directly to customers in a safe and responsible way.

“The food was there, sitting in warehouses and fields, whilst supermarket shelves were emptying. We wanted to give our local community access to this food and ensure that the suppliers we depend on stayed operational and will continue to be there in the future.

“So we started offering essentials; milk, eggs, butter, flour, cheese, oats and vegetable, fruit and salad boxes. Vegetable, fruit and salad boxes based on weight and number of options were the obvious go to. These give us less reliance on certain items always being available and allow us to offer flexibility.

“Fitting the takeaway serving hatch, such a small change, has been pivotal. The idea came from a research trip to Copenhagen and a place called Mirabelle Bakery. It has proved invaluable, enabling us to serve customers in a safe way, helped by our location in Bell Court, where we’ve been allowed to mark our social-distant queue systems on the pavement to allow customers to stay a safe distance from each other.”

The business swiftly produced around a Covid Risk Mitigation Assessment, based around World Health Oganisation workplace guidelines, which gives staff and customers peace of mind that everything has been done to mitigate the risk of virus transfer. An online delivery and pre-order for collection service for the local Stratford community is also up and running.

“We couldn’t have done this without the invaluable skills of our team,” David said. “Molly, our other baker, has a wealth of baking knowhow. Ellie is keeping the spirits of the whole operation and community buoyant with her positive attitude and friendly service at the hatch. Danni has brought the experience and connections from running her local event catering business, The Wild Oven.

“But above all, this experience has taught us all to be grateful for what we have. Our suppliers, with all the hard work they’re putting in to make sure our shelves are stocked, have been brilliant. As are the customer who support us every time they buy from us. And each member of our family who support us in ways that are above and beyond.

“A month in, we have come so far – but there is a lot further to go!”