Save The Bean! The Story:
What is The Bean? Our story begins around 6 years ago with a simple, yet radical, idea of creating a new style of independent coffee house. One that would be a safe, inclusive, diverse, space where all are welcome. It would be a space serving top-quality products without over-charging, a bold new concept!
[description - a picture showing the great coffee and delicious cake available in Bean Social Cafe]
One year later, after a lot of blood, sweat, and many tears, beanSOCIAL cafe was born. A shining beacon of light at the gateway to the historic city of Durham.
We secured a lease in a building over 300 years old at the top of North Road.
[description - the front of Bean Social cafe, looking down North Road towards Durham Castle]
Locally known as the worst street in Durham, we took a leap of faith as the rent, space, and potential, were within the budget for us to realise our mission statement. And it worked! For nearly two years people from all walks of life flocked to us and we hit targets and smashed projections.
The Bump In The Road:
Then the COVID lockdown hit and so began the worst two years possible for hospitality. It hurt us, but we did not give up. We did not go silently into the night. We survived.
Trade upon reopening was slow as the public's confidence in the world had been knocked, but we continued, powered by our dedication to our fiercely loyal following.
Opposite the cafe is Durham Bus Station, which was demolished just weeks before lockdown. We knew about this and had forecasted and prepared for an inevitable dip in trade for the duration of the planned rebuild, however after multiple major setbacks the new bus station is still over a year away from completion.
[description - a building site showing foundations and very little progress in over two years]
As we approach the end of our lease, our financial position is precarious and we don't have the financial buffer to cover the liability of renewing the lease. If this crowd funder fails, we will close. Commercial leases are such that if you close before the end of the agreed contract, any payment owed must be honoured.
There is hope though. Our building has recently been taken over by a new landlord who has the utmost confidence that upon completion of the bus station, and North Road ceasing to be utterly chaotic, we will thrive once more. As a gesture of this belief, our landlord has offered us an 18-month extension on our lease which should see us through to the bus station being completed. We wholeheartedly believe that once the bus station is completed, we will prosper.
[description - the view from Bean Social cafe, looking across North Road to the barricades and hoarding surrounding the building site of the bus station]
To move forward we need to create a buffer fund to counteract the normal unpredictability of trade until the bus station build is completed, as we have exhausted our working capital fighting to survive.
We need to raise £10,000 in order to be able to sign the lease extension and keep us open beyond September. If we can't sign the lease, we will close at the end of August. With the money raised, we would also be able to cover any unexpected expenses, such as machinery breakdowns, and also help us cover costs if we see a further drop in trade during the bus station construction. Since the bus station rebuild started, we have seen a drop in trade of 33%, which we expect to recover and go beyond, once the new bus station is completed.
A stretch goal of £30,000 would ensure our future for three more years following the 18-month extension, and cover us should we encounter any nasty surprises. Given all the obstacles we have had to contend with so far, we feel this is a prudent approach.
After 18 months we forecast that we will be back to a normal level of operation. With the help of the community, we can Save The Bean and ensure the future of this essential community hub. We are excited about what we can continue to do and offer in the future, we just need to get there.
We are the heart and soul of a diverse community. From our unique atmosphere, the amazing coffee served, diet inclusive food, to the tranquil oasis that is our sensory garden, people love this space as these testimonials show:
"From the first time I was introduced to beanSOCIAL, I was overwhelmed by the staff, the friendly atmosphere, and the inclusive environment."
"We love beanSOCIAL, staff are awesome."
"I implore anyone who values art, passion, and community, to come together to save this business."
"The vegan burgers are like nothing I've ever tasted before - mind-blowing!"
"You can tell all of the staff enjoy working there, which comes across in the great customer service that you receive. Love it!"
"What can I say? Fabulous food, amazing staff. My favourite coffee shop, I love it."
"beanSOCIAL is an oasis of calm where you can sit, relax, and let the sound of the water feature wash over you. And the icing on the cake is the staff, they genuinely make you feel like a member of the family."
"Love this place, love the food, love the staff."
"Even on my days off I still come into Durham when I can, purely to have the best sandwich EVER!!"
"We need to keep fighting for places that make a community thrive."