About 5 years ago, in November, the Coffee Yard and Yard Gallery opened up a few doors away from us. It was modern, smart, and spacious. We were well established at the time, and we had weathered the opening of several other cafes and restaurants in the town. However, this was right next door, and they seemed so organised. We felt threatened. The Bay Tree emptied while all our customers tried out the new place, and what they had to offer. It was understandable. William wanted to compete with them, but I felt that that was a red herring. I felt it was important to keep doing what we had always done, but to try to do it better. The smart new place beside us forced us to smarten and tidy ourselves up a bit, modernise a bit, and think about what our customers wanted from us. I think it made us take ourselves more seriously. I certainly felt that I loved The Bay Tree far too much to allow ourselves to be swallowed up by competition. The Bay Tree gradually filled up again in the following weeks, and we felt a bit more reassured. Then, in the week between Christmas and the new year, the Coffee Yard took a few days off. The result of that was that we got all their customers as well as our own, and we found ourselves fervently wishing for them to reopen! That was the first breaking of the ice between us. Another milestone in our relationship was the borrowing of some coffee...us borrowing from them, not the other way round. Lending and borrowing between neighbours is a trusting and friendly experience(a better word escapes me) and the thaw continued. We both now frequent each others' establishments, William and I always have meetings in the Coffee Yard, and Jim and Nikki quite often have dinner in The Bay Tree on Saturday nights.
However, what has prompted me to write about all this today is that the staff of the Coffee Yard had their Christmas party in The Bay Tree last night. I was touched and gratified that they should have chosen their neighbours for this occasion, and really hope they had a good evening. I know the chefs were super organised for the event.
We are now officially friends!