The pandemic has hit many businesses hard – and it might have spelled the end for a quaint little café in a Borders village.
Reporter Hilary Scott sat down for a brew with Chris Nash in Cardrona to hear about the struggles of Nashy’s Coffee House.
“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” says Chris. “Ever since the new houses next to my business started being built.”
Chris has been brewing and cooking at the Old Station building for the past five years, but it hasn’t been an easy ride despite Nashy’s Coffee House being a hit with locals, cyclists, and walkers.
A housing development on neighbouring land has led to his takings being cut by more than half.
As previously reported in the Peeblesshire News, noise and dust from the building site – along with road and parking restrictions – drove his customers away.
Despite the setbacks, Chris was determined to build the business back up to the success it once was.
But then coronavirus came along and dealt him a huge blow.
“It’s a shambles,” he says. “We had to close for seven weeks during lockdown which was obviously a massive hit.
“When we opened again we were lucky enough to have good weather so things were promising through the summer, but then all the different tiers kicked in and it all started to slow down again.”
Visibly stressed, Chris sighed: “It’s a bloody struggle. We’re too small to have people sitting in which really takes its toll when the weather’s bad and it has been forever it seems recently.”
Not one to admit defeat, Chris battled through the storm – and the adverse weather.
“My massive and kindly donated gazebo was obliterated by the snow the other week which hasn’t helped so I’m going to have to outlay more cash from somewhere to try and put up something else to encourage folks to come along.”
He added: “There’s no real quick end in sight from COVID, it seems, so it’s going to be a battle for the foreseeable for me.
“I understand it’s not the nicest thought walking down and sitting outside, and I hugely appreciate the people that do, for sure.
“I just need more help with the takeaway side of things till summer at least.”
There are many ways you can support Nashy’s without having to sit out in the cold weather, Chris explains.
“As well as being able to phone in an order, we’ve an online menu and ordering system being set up to make things extra easy to order some delicious homemade, fresh-cooked delights available for a time that suits.
“We just need people to realise that we’re only five minutes away from Innerleithen by car – you’d spend more time trying to find a parking space in Peebles.
“And even a little spend, when possible, means a lot to us.”
Chris tells me that some days he barely breaks even. “Due to the massive debts needing repaid due to the building site disaster, that can’t go on for long.
“If it wasn’t for pure stubbornness and not wanting to give up, the place would be closed, and might still be if I don’t get support from locals.”
He continued: “It’s been a rough year, and it can be crazy rough if you’ve got your own shop, eatery, or hotel during the winter times – let alone during a pandemic!”
In a plea to locals, he said: “So not just for myself with Nashy’s but for everyone trying to run a business, please give us as much support as you can to see us though to the good times not so far ahead.
“Like I said before, a little from a lot of folk makes a muckle difference to us all.”