Continuing our focus on businesses who have been adapting during the COVID-19 crisis, we talk to an East Lothian firm that should need no introduction!
East Lothian residents will no doubt be very familiar with our very own Luca’s Dairy Ice Cream but did you know how they’ve had to change their way of trading during the pandemic? Here we talk to Yolanda Luca, co-owner and CEO of this long-standing business.
Q:How long has the business been running?
A: Luca’s Ice Cream was established in 1908 by my grandfather, Luca Scappaticcio.
Q: What effect did the Coronavirus pandemic have on your business?
A: It was clear early on that we would be closing our cafes and ice cream parlours for an unforeseen amount of time. A closure of this nature was unprecedented in Luca’s long history and unimaginable for a business that is only closed three days of the year. As other cafes and restaurants were subject to the same regulations as us, we were concerned that this would be reflected in our wholesale sales. Fortunately, we found that our customers who could remain open ensured a steady turnover of our ice cream.
Q: What did you do to adapt to these challenges?
A: Once the shops had closed indefinitely, our hopes lay in creating an online shop offering an ice cream delivery service within the Lothians. At the time we did not have an online shop so the first mission was to create one. Although initially daunting, it actually proved relatively easy to set up. Furthermore, having the ability to update and add products ourselves meant we were able to adapt to customer requests.
Ice cream, as you can imagine, is notoriously difficult to deliver - you can’t just leave it on the doorstep! Yet the whole nature of lockdown meant it was possible to guarantee that someone would be in to receive their order. Overall, the online shop and delivery service proved a great success in sustaining Luca’s and ensuring our customers could enjoy an ice cream during this unprecedented occurrence.
More recently, we have been able to reopen our ice cream counters for takeaway ice cream and hot drinks. This required an intensive review of our sales procedure. From queuing to paying, all stages had to be carefully considered to ensure maximum safety and protection for both our customers and staff.
Q: What does the immediate future look like for your business? Will some of the changes be permanent? Are you thinking of further ways to adapt?
A: We shall shortly be reopening our cafes for customers to enjoy sit-in meals and ice dishes. The seating capacity will be greatly reduced and our team is fully briefed on new social distancing practices.
I don’t feel it is possible to say what new measures will become permanent practice until government guidelines become more established. At the moment, new information is still being gathered regarding the spread of this virus and until we know more, government guidelines will alter and evolve.
Q: Have you had any support from East Lothian Council that you’d like to highlight?
A: We have, as usual had amazing support and guidance from all the departments and we are eternally grateful.
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