Make or break

As a small coffee shop serving breakfast and lunch, Lupo’s location in the heart of Exchange Quay in Manchester was perfectly situated to capture footfall from office workers as well as hotels in close proximity to music venues and Old Trafford football stadium. As the pandemic took hold across the Far East, Austria and Italy, Nico started to see custom tail off as hotels were unoccupied and people started to work from home. By the second week of March it was apparent that the UK was heading towards a similar situation to Italy. Speaking to family in Italy Nico realised, “we must act quickly or risk Lupo going under”.

How has your business had to adapt and innovate to cope with the pandemic?

A week before lockdown, Lupo started to deliver ready-made meals and veg boxes locally. The take-up was small at first but as soon as the stay-at-home measures were announced and people struggled to get supermarket slots, the demand ramped up; “in all honesty, we didn't know what had hit us”. Over the coming weeks, Lupo worked tirelessly to manage orders and deliveries whilst also expanding their menu. 

It became clear that to meet their customer demand and adhere to social distancing guidelines, they were going to need more space. For Nico, it was time to take the next step; “when the government announced they would back loans with low-interest rates for business we decided to take a risk, borrow some money and convert an empty industrial unit into a commercial kitchen.” Since then, Lupo has worked closely with local bars and delis to supply goods whilst continuing to improve their local delivery service and menu. They have most recently been shortlisted for ‘Best food and drink box delivery’ service in the Manchester Food & Drink Festival.

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Parmigiana Lupo Cafe

Have you noticed an uplift in people wanting to support local businesses during lockdown?

There has been an undeniable shift in the relationship Lupo has with the local community, not only with their customers but also from other businesses in the area. During a time when the business was going through a huge transition, customers were patient and understanding, recognising how hard and different things were but remaining supportive and loyal throughout. Local businesses also pulled together and supported one another which ultimately made each other stronger. Nico is also making an effort to shop local;  “one of our new lockdown customers makes blinds, so we ordered new blinds for our house from them."

“Independent businesses play a pivotal role in communities, they give an area life and soul” Nico Pasquali, owner of Lupo

Do you think the support for local businesses will continue after lockdown eases?

It’s hard to predict what will happen over the coming months given the changing regulations and economic outlook with many people likely feeling the pinch. Smaller businesses might not be able to compete with larger retailers when it comes to price, however they certainly add value in many other ways “independent businesses play a pivotal role in communities, they give an area life and soul”. As people continue to spend more time than ever at home and in their communities local businesses should continue to see the benefit.

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“Don't be afraid to ask for help; we approached Growth Hub in Manchester which is funded by the government and they have been giving us advice and providing valuable support. I also think speaking with family and friends is important too; this is a hard time and it's good to get your worries off your chest. People that care about you want to help and are happy to lend you their ear. Share ideas, thoughts and worries, that's my advice.” Nico Pasquali, owner of Lupo

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