A female entrepreneur has made lockdown a takeaway success for a new business, by launching Tynemouth’s first ice cream emporium thanks to help from the North Tyneside Business Factory.
Dibbley’s was opened by Deborah Yeaman in a prime central position in Tynemouth Village and has created 12 new jobs across front of house and chef roles – with a further five seasonal roles to service additional Summer trade.
The business was due to officially open at the end of March and renovation plans were well underway to create the two-storey interior dining space when lockdown measures came into force across the UK. The speed at which lockdown transpired meant the bistro renovations could no longer continue, leaving Deborah uncertain of the future before even opening the doors.
Deborah, owner of Dibbley’s comments: “No one can plan for a global pandemic when preparing to launch a business. We were busy turning both floors of the bistro into a new style of dining experience and preparing the outside seating area. However, before we even got a chance to complete the interiors everything went into lockdown.
“I can’t pretend that wasn’t a very scary and worrying time given our initial outlay and the prospect of closure for many months with no solid opening date. I think, like many other businesses in the hospitality sector, we had to learn to adapt our plans and still trade in such a challenging time.”
Deborah came up with the idea to open the café for takeaways. Using a perspex screen over the doorway to maintain social distancing and closing the outside seating area to customers, they were able to open in April of this year for takeaway drinks and ice cream.
Deborah continues: “Initially, not knowing how comfortable people would feel purchasing from shops, I only put in a relatively small order with our local supplier for a selection of ice cream flavours. I made the order assuming that I might be left with too much stock but in actual fact, we were slightly overwhelmed by the response.
“We had queues out the door as eager locals, out for their daily exercise in the sunny spring, came to try our ice cream flavours and some of our more unique concoctions. We make ice cream sandwiches as well as toasted marshmallow coated ice creams and offer vegan options, so we like to think we don’t just serve the standard scoop in a cone. We tripled our weekly ice cream order which shows just how good the response has been!”
Deborah has now opened up the outside and indoors seating area with a full menu for dine-in options since renovations have been completed. Dibbley’s will offer a breakfast, lunch and evening menu of dishes to complement the ice cold and creamy treats that have kept customers returning during lockdown.
Deborah continues: “We have been pleasantly surprised and are extremely grateful to customers for visiting our bistro at a time when we really didn’t know how to react or plan for what was happening in our business. It wasn’t how we originally envisioned launching but it’s certainly been an eye opener in terms of what has worked for our customer base. We are just delighted to now be expanding our full range of menu items and moving from gelataria to delivering a whole host of hot and cold food options.
“It’s been an interesting few months but one which given the wider picture, we certainly can’t complain about. We are just pleased we have been able to provide jobs, keep our customers happy and open our doors to the people of Tynemouth and beyond.”
Deborah worked with The Business Factory, North Tyneside Council’s Business Support programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, as part of the initial support to help get the business up and running. Their specialist business advisor, Nicky Burke, has been on hand throughout the start-up phase and lockdown to advise on set-up issues and business planning going forward. Supported by the ERDF, The Business Factory is delivered by TEDCO in North Tyneside to help new enterprises access the help and guidance they need to finance and set up a new venture in the Borough.
Nicky Burke, business advisor at North Tyneside Business Factory comments: “I am absolutely delighted to see how Dibbley’s has been able to adapt their initial launch plan to still trade and introduce their brand to the local community even at a time of such restricted social interaction. Thanks to a sunny and warm spring and a busy UK staycation market on the coast, they are now in a position to move forward and create the ice cream emporium and bistro they initially envisioned. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to working together going forward.”