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      • Time for a cuppa? It’s a big week for coffee shops and eateries

      • March means marketing for cafés, pubs and restaurants

        Spring has sprung – and gone again, in terms of weather. The first week in March marks more than just a psychological switch from winter, though. There’s a positive glut of gastronomic marketing opportunities for the savvy business owner, all in celebration of the very reason your customers choose you: delicious drinks and fabulous food.

        First up, it’s Veggie Month. From meat-free Cornish pasties and sausage rolls to vegetarian dishes inspired by street food from around the world, there’s never been more choice for those who don’t eat meat. There are also more and more people cutting back on their meat intake; so-called flexitarians. Here’s a whole month devoted to more sustainable dishes; a vital message at a time when climate change is making big news and just after we’ve experienced the hottest February day ever recorded in the UK.

        On the flip side, there’s plenty of marketing for meat-lovers coming up. March 4th marks the start of Farmhouse Breakfast Week, aiming at highlighting regional UK produce suitable for British breakfasts. Cafés serving up the traditional British fry-up can set out to satisfy both meat-eaters and vegans alike if they’re sourcing the right food. March 4th is also the first day of British Pie Week; an unmissable marketing theme for restaurants and pubs.

        Tuesday sees Shrove Tuesday and the annual shovelling down of as many pancakes as we can manage. We’ve heard of cafés investing in traditional crêpe makers and earning enough takings to pay for it during this week alone; come the summer, who doesn’t enjoy French crêpes with strawberries or bananas and cream? And since it’s Veggie Month, why not look up vegan pancake recipes and make sure you can whiz up a treat for any and all potential customers, including those with certain allergies? If you’re in the right location, you’re sure to see a return on your investment.

        Coffee against dementia

        And from 1st March to the 8th, it’s Time for a Cuppa. This is Dementia UK’s fundraising week. Essentially, the idea is to host tea parties to raise money for the charity. Since 2009, Dementia UK has helped people to organise more than 8,600 tea parties, raising over £760k. Wow. Now, the idea may be aimed at private individuals, but there’s nothing to stop you offering your coffee shop up as a venue for someone to host their own fundraising meet-up, and even donating a percentage of profits taken during the week to a thoroughly worthy cause.

        On the subject of good causes and the role a coffee shop can play, we’ve just found out about The Chatty Café Scheme. We’re overjoyed it exists and a little jealous we didn’t come up with the idea ourselves. It’s designed to combat loneliness, a problem which affects almost 25% of UK adults, according to a survey carried out by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Stop and think about that for a moment: almost a quarter of everyone you pass in the street – of everyone who comes into your coffee shop, restaurant or pub – “always or often” feels lonely. Heart-breaking. What’s more, research from the Florida State University College of Medicine indicates that loneliness can increase the risk of developing dementia by as much as 40%.

        And you, as the provider of a community facility, have the power to make a difference. That’s where the Chatty Café Scheme comes in. A thousand cafés have joined since it began three years ago. The idea is brilliantly simple. Set aside a table in your coffee shop or tea room as a communal space. Put up a sign. Sit here if you’re happy to chat. It’s called the Chatter and Natter table.

        Because for every person who wants the solitude and space to think as they relish your ristretto, there’s someone who just wants someone to talk to, to pass the time of day with. You can make it happen.

        Even if you have a heart of stone, put on your profit-making head a moment and think of the amazing local PR opportunity of becoming a Chatty Café Scheme member. Then join up here.