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‘We will come back as strong as ever’ - Cromer businesses will bounce back after lockdown, insist owners

PUBLISHED: 06:30 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:33 30 April 2020

Staff of the Old Rock Shop bistro in Cromer pictured from left Chef David Nockels and owner Sam Grout. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Staff of the Old Rock Shop bistro in Cromer pictured from left Chef David Nockels and owner Sam Grout. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2015

It is known as the jewel of the north Norfolk coast. But despite coronavirus lockdown hitting business and tourism, many believe Cromer will come back stronger. SOPHIE WYLLIE reports.

Tim Adams, town, district and county councillor for Cromer and founder of the Cromer Cares group. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesTim Adams, town, district and county councillor for Cromer and founder of the Cromer Cares group. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

“I have complete faith in the town’s ability to bounce back from this crisis.”

Ema Scott Rowlands, who used to run Breakers cafe in Cromer, before setting up DottyAboutCakes with her husband Laurie Scott. Picture: David BaleEma Scott Rowlands, who used to run Breakers cafe in Cromer, before setting up DottyAboutCakes with her husband Laurie Scott. Picture: David Bale

That is the belief of bistro owner Sam Grout, president of Cromer Chamber of Trade, one which is echoed by other business owners in the town.

Claire Davies and Louise Hyde of Davies Fish Shop on Garden Streett in Cromer. Picture: KAREN BETHELLClaire Davies and Louise Hyde of Davies Fish Shop on Garden Streett in Cromer. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

At a time when Cromer should be welcoming people from far and wide, the high street is quiet, and the majority of its independent shops, cafés, restaurants, pubs and hotels, are closed to the public.

Quiet streets in Cromer during the Coronavirus Lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYQuiet streets in Cromer during the Coronavirus Lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Despite that, many have adapted to lockdown measures with restaurants, pubs, fish and chip shops, bakeries, florists and independent bars in Cromer and the surrounding area starting up home delivery services and changing opening hours and business practises.

Mayor of Cromer, Richard Leeds (right), pictured with new deputy mayor Mike Bossingham. Photo: HUBBA ROBERTSMayor of Cromer, Richard Leeds (right), pictured with new deputy mayor Mike Bossingham. Photo: HUBBA ROBERTS

An army of 220 volunteers has also stepped up through the Cromer Cares group, set-up by Cromer Town Council, to help 750 self-isolating households with food and prescription deliveries, advice on social care and housing and even offering financial assistance.

Quiet walkways in Cromer during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYQuiet walkways in Cromer during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Grout, owner of The Old Rock Shop Bistro on Hamilton Road, Cromer, said: “These days Cromer is very much a year-round destination, however, we’d be naïve not to recognise the impact a lack of summer season will have on businesses in the town.

People exercise on Cromer's seafront during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPeople exercise on Cromer's seafront during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Inevitably current circumstances are going to affect all of these businesses. However, on the whole the mood remains very optimistic with business owners ready to bounce back and looking forward to when they can safely open their doors again. Naturally many businesses have adapted to the conditions.

Quiet streets in Cromer during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYQuiet streets in Cromer during the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“People’s loyalty and love of Cromer is strong from residents and those that holiday here. We have a community spirit second to none. These are onerous times in which everybody needs to play their part, but when the time is right, restrictions are eased and it is safe to do so, Cromer will come back from this as strong as ever.”

A scene of a bustling Cromer street during the 2019 carnival. Picture: Sonya DuncanA scene of a bustling Cromer street during the 2019 carnival. Picture: Sonya Duncan

MORE: Town’s businesses show resilience during coronavirus lockdown

Will Chandler, owner of the The Gangway micropub, who opened the Church Street business at the end of November last year, has been delivering alcoholic drinks to people’s homes seven days a week since lockdown.

Cromer police PC Joey Mazzetti, left, and PC Cameron Askew, patrolling the Cromer promenade in March 2020. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCromer police PC Joey Mazzetti, left, and PC Cameron Askew, patrolling the Cromer promenade in March 2020. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said he expected bars and pubs to open last and would rather they open when it was safe due to social distancing challenges.

Large queues outside No1 Fish and Chips in Cromer just before the coronavirus lockdown was enforced in March 2020. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANLarge queues outside No1 Fish and Chips in Cromer just before the coronavirus lockdown was enforced in March 2020. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Claire Davies, co-owner of Davies Fish Shop on Garden Street, Cromer, has continued to serve fish, crab and lobsters on Friday mornings through a one in, one out system but has had to do 60-80 home deliveries across two days per week during lockdown to supplement the loss of income.

She said the lockdown would have a big impact on the fishing industry due to restaurants and cafés closing.

“The lockdown has had a disastrous affect on Cromer but we will come together as soon as the restrictions are gone. You have to carry on. We are very lucky that people support local businesses here. I hope that people continue to use the local shops when lockdown is lifted.”

Mrs Davies is hoping to re-open her shop on Thursday and Saturday mornings from next week.

MORE: Video and pictures of Lowestoft under lockdown

Another business which has diversified during lockdown is Southrepps-based business DottyAboutCakes, which started last year and supplies baked goods made by Ema Scott Rowlands to cafés and weddings.

For the past two weeks it has run the Dotty on Wheels service which delivers cakes and traditional bakes to people’s homes.

Last week it carried out 30 deliveries across Cromer and surrounding communities.

Laurie Scott, business partner, said: “The lockdown forced us to look at how we adapt. It will be another string to our bow when restrictions are lifted. We will get through this.”

He praised the strong business community and the support it receives from the thriving community.

MORE: Seaside carnival cancels for first time in 50 years due to pandemic

Tim Adams, town councillor who set-up Cromer Cares, said: “We are blessed with our volunteers. I think the lockdown has strengthened the community. It has strengthened relationships between neighbours. The businesses have shown themselves to be resilient. I hope people value independent businesses after this.”

Mr Adams believed the town council would need to promote Cromer as a visitor destination after lockdown is lifted.

Richard Leeds, mayor of Cromer, said: “We have to grin and bear it. People are looking out for people more now.”

To contact Cromer Cares call 01263 512254, 07789 625033 or search Cromer Cares on Facebook.

For the latest COVID-19 news, visit the Norfolk Coronavirus Updates Facebook page.

Click here to find out more about the EDP’s Here to Help campaign.

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