Loyal customer helps coffee shop avoid shutting down

Pietermaritzburg coffee connoisseur and owner of Hyde Park coffee shop, Ayanda Dube.PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane
Pietermaritzburg coffee connoisseur and owner of Hyde Park coffee shop, Ayanda Dube.PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

A simple act of kindness by a Pietermaritzburg resident has ensured that a local business, which faced the risk of permanently shutting down after the national lockdown, will keep its doors open.

The resident from Wembley, who asked to remain unnamed, entered a competition on the East Coast Breakfast show and managed to win a R10 000 lifeline for Hyde Park Coffee Shop in Roberts Road, Clarendon.

The coffee shop is owned by Ayanda and Smangele Dube.

In an e-mail sent to The Witness on Tuesday, the resident said: “They have become dearly loved by the community, and it was heartbreaking when they had to close up shop on March 26, with the fear of never reopening after lockdown. With absolutely no income whatsoever, they struggled through the lockdown, not knowing if their dream was in tatters.”

The resident, who is a regular customer at Hyde Park, said it was the first time she had entered any competition and was happy to have scooped the grand prize.

Speaking to The Witness on Tuesday, Ayanda, who describes the good Samaritan as “a regular and supportive customer”, said he was almost reduced to tears when he received the phone call from East Coast Radio to say he would be receiving financial assistance.

He said the initial announcement of the first Covid-19 case in Hilton had a negative impact on his business. “Immediately after the first case was reported we felt the pinch.

“People started being extra cautious and foot traffic decreased. It was just a disaster and it has been very hard having to pay rent and wages and also cover other overheads,” Ayanda said.

The Dubes have been running the business for two years and employ five people.

Ayanda said the announcement of the initial lockdown and the country being under level 5 was a “big blow” and he contemplated shutting down the business permanently.

“We felt it was going to be difficult for us to bounce back. We didn’t know the duration of the lockdown and being closed meant we didn’t have any form of income and we couldn’t pay salaries. It was a difficult place to be in and the only option we had was to close down and start looking at other ways of making an income.

“The reward has helped to cover certain costs and luckily enough, under level 4, we are now allowed to do deliveries.”

He said he was “blown away” that the resident had gone out of her way to try and save his business.

“We know we have a loyal customer base and she has been supporting from day one. We were very excited to find out that she took the initiative. It has helped us tremendously and we are grateful to her for displaying Ubuntu.”

As a token of appreciation, Ayanda said they have named one of their iced coffees after the customer.

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