A New Reality...
I've sat down to write this too many times to count. I find it difficult to say anything I need to say. Maybe wearing a mask for a year has left me feeling like I cannot speak.
I've thought a lot about whether or not to share our experience through a pandemic. I am very aware of how so many people are suffering right now.
As we approach a full calendar year of operating a business through a global pandemic. I'm writing this to share with you all the things we are proud of in you, our customer. I'm writing to share with you what keeps us going. Because if I'm being honest... I don't know how we are doing this.
This past year has taught us so much. It has pushed everything we love about our business up front and center. I'd like to share that short list.
The first on my list. You.
When we re-opened last year in April, we were scared AF.
We spent 5 weeks closed in chaos and fear. When we finally were able to open again, you lined up, you followed all of the protocols we put in place to keep yourselves and us safe. You wore masks and you sanitized your hands, you showed up. You were our survival. We faced 2 more closures, one lengthy one in October and again this past January/February. You show up with enthusiasm, well wishes, encouragement. You bought extra boxes and spread cheer to others. You told us your stories of doorstep drops to loved ones in quarantine. We have a stack of cards that you mailed and shoved through the doors when we were closed.
You made it possible for us to feel safe, when we couldn't conceive of it. You were determined to see us open, you're all a bunch of scrappy donut lovers and man... you just didn't let us give up.
From the bottom of my big fat heart. I love all of you.
We love so many of you. There wasn't a day where we didn't receive some form of encouragement. You sent gifts, letters, cards, Facebook messages, tags on Instagram, pictures of how the donuts were enjoyed. You tried to give us money, you paid boxes of donuts forward, trusting us to give them to anyone who needed some cheer. You stopped us in public to say incredibly kind and loving sentiments. You sent us your art, you stood and shared with us your own experience. You shared yourselves and welcomed us into your worlds.
I often stand in the space and look at up turned chairs, a table blockade at the door, a security camera... It looks and feel post-apocalyptical, like an empty and abandoned place. It used to be filled with... well... you. I miss setting up tables and chairs for the ladies on Thursday morning, who would come after a workout at FIT Studio here in Devon. I miss watching people hug greet each other, It's a beautiful thing to see two people embrace and smile with excitement about stealing the time away from life to talk, sip coffees and teas and just enjoy.
I miss people. I miss faces. I miss embraces and handshakes. I miss the grand note of sound that is made when people are together.
We're so grateful for the support you have shown us.
Second on the short list...
We Love working together as Husband and Wife, this experience has pushed us closer, pulled from us our best and hardest work. We've experienced losses we could have never imagined. We have been forced to preserve what matters most to us, both personally and professionally. We lost the investment of building the space in Devon into a restaurant, a newly opened Edmonton location, our staff, our home and we set aside all the plans we had spent 3 years working on. All that remains is exactly what we needed to keep going. We're still processing all that we stripped away and understanding how to move forward with the experience.
As I write I find myself working to stay positive and focused on sharing what is important about this year. I'm fighting the need to tell you all about the struggle, the yucky bits, the moments that stopped us in our tracks. So I won't. I'm choosing to celebrate instead.
The list of things to celebrate is varied and surprising. We often look at each other after the day is done and we recount the conversations that stay with us. We always love our interactions with "Egon". Dr. Makokis and his partner Anthony always leave us feeling like the world is still exciting. We can't tell you how many times you have told us "I'm so happy you are open"
What does that mean for us. That is what we sit with daily.
"Open" for us is difficult. We manage to make our donuts and serve you. We managed it while we lived in our trailer at a camp ground when our house sold. I have since vowed to never shower in a camper at 2 am during 2 weeks of rain in May, my bones ache just thinking about it. "Open" means without the support of staff, the cleaning, the inventory, the ordering, the phone calls, the emails, the voicemails, reservations, the Facebook messages, the comments on posts, the Instagram messages, the google reviews, updating the website, the receipts...all while making the donuts and serving you one at a time. It used to run with the support of 6 to 8 staff. "Open" means it's just us. "Open" for only 6 hours is an 11 hour day for us.
We have had to decide what we can do, what we cannot do and what will be sustainable. If you had told me on March 18 2020 that we would be working this way for at least 18 months, I am not sure I would've reopened. But I did and the only way I can describe this experience is "Fumbling toward survival"
I sit today, with a new set of skills. I'm getting good at the curveballs. I know my strength is in my ability to create a new way. I don't know what my business will look like this coming year and that's okay. I'm developing McGyver skills as we face ingredient shortages and changes. I have accepted that what was released may never come back. That acceptance is still a struggle but I'm working on it.
A lot of you have inquired about my recent injury and why we were closed a 3rd time. All that I can really say is, my back is healing, but my mind needed the extra time. I have always struggled with depression. I can honestly say I spent an entire week staring at a wall. My usual coping skills have been no match for this pandemic and serving you while I'm trying to cope is not good for me, my business or you, my customer. It is not easy to share this openly, but if I'm going to keep trudging, I have to be honest with myself and you.
In the aftermath of all that this year has taken... I can honestly tell you.
I am grateful.
For now my strategy is simple.
I'm not sure how long this Pandemic plans on sticking around, putting masks and barriers between us. I'm not sure if the change in weather has me feeling a little brighter and full of hope.
We are open. We are grateful. We are hopeful. We're still a little depressed. We thank you. We are humbled. We are still here.
As we move forward, we are thinking about the changes we need to make in order to keep going. We're finding a way to embrace the spring and summer months while we wait for our turn for our jabs in the arm. It's time to move on and embrace that life and business has changed. In the spirit of true entrepreneurship, I'm rolling up my sleeves and preparing for the changes we need to make to the space. We have 2 staff again and it is a relief.
SO that brings me to the number one question being asked of us right now.
"When are you going to open back up... like you know, have dine in?"
My answer. Frickin' Delights is moving toward a new direction and we are designing what that looks like and how it will work. I have no ambitions to return to what we were doing in the past. I don't have all the answers for you or myself. I spent a year trying to not get sick and to not make you sick. It was not business as usual and I will not pretend that it was okay. I'm only just beginning to process it all, while trying to keep what's left of what I spent 8 years building.
We won't be dine in for the foreseeable future and that is the story I don't want to harp on. While 98% of you were amazing and in this quest for survival with us, 2% made some days a living hell. I won't ever entertain this population again.
I don't know what this year will bring. I know that right now, we are prepared to do everything we can to keep this bus on the road, doing what we do best and in a way that keeps and holds our boundaries.
Our hearts are with everyone working everyday to make better days for everyone.
Thank you for fueling our business and supporting us through this very strange year.