Newly-opened cafe’s future looks bright despite lockdown closure

When Joann Jobling opened her cafe on February 6 she never imagined having to close it less than two months later on March 20 because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“There were not many reserves in the tank and a lot of anxiety ahead,” she said of Marmalade & Jam’s unexpected closure.

However receiving a government grant of £10,000 and a rates holiday “made a huge difference - it took that anxiety away.

“The £10,000 has been a massive support to help me pay my rent and just stay out of debt, which has been incredible.”

And, since reopening on August 20, the support she has received has been “incredible.

“People have been really happy that we’d actually got through it, survived and were back.”

As well as many returning customers, the temporary closure also led to lots of new guests too.

“It’s been so far so good, but it’s nowhere near as busy compared to before lockdown.

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“But we’re trying our best and we feel like if we look after the people who come in, they’ll look after us too.”

As for the future, Joann said she is “a little anxious - we just don’t know what the future is going to bring”, adding that the cafe is compliant with Covid-19 regulations.

“But we just have to keep plodding on and coping with the changes and restrictions.”

More than anything, though, Joann hopes to be able to bring “so many ideas” to life.

These include celebrating Harry Potter’s birthday and commemorating Remembrance Day by working with the Royal British Legion and fundraising with them by holding a 1940s day.

She is also keen on putting together a ‘taste of East Anglia’ hamper and putting in “all the fantastic independents” to be able to supply to people as Christmas gifts.

She added that having so many independents in the city “brings such a richness to the high street.

“I think there is still room for so many more and I really believe that the diversity and alternative products that you can find with independents - the quirkiness and personality - it’s just amazing for the high street.

“Especially for a high street like Ely where we have so many visitors.

“I’d love to see more independents being well-supported; I’d love for the rates and the rents to become a little bit more affordable so people can actually thrive on the high street and compete with the bigger names that don’t seem to be doing so well at the moment.”

At the moment, she thinks there is a real community support for independents - “people really want us to succeed”.