A RECENTLY opened café has reinvented itself to counter the threat posed by the coronavirus.

The Horsell Kitchen is no longer operating as a traditional eatery but is instead providing a menu of pre-prepared dishes for customers to cook at home.

“We’d only opened on 3 February,” said Joanna Hodgson, who runs the café in High Street, Horsell, with her husband, John.

“Then we had this complete change in circumstances and we felt then that the only responsible solution was to go to take-out, and close the indoor seating.

“It’s just John and I now, which is sad. I’ve had to let the rest of the staff go.”

Joanna outlined her thinking for the enforced change in direction. “I’ve a friend in Naples so I’ve always kept an eye on the Italian situation, and quite early on there they allowed the delivery of food with no contact,” she said.

“We’ve adapted that model for the café. John prepares a range of dishes, which can be frozen, for people to collect from the shop and cook for themselves when needed.

“There is no contact, everything is in place. We’ve set up a table about two metres from the counter, which we put the food on and customers collect from.  We have hand sanitisers there too, so hygiene is strictly observed.”

 Joanna updates the menu regularly and says that all the dishes are cooked with fresh ingredients from their butcher and from Boz’s fruit and veg.

“We work off our Facebook page,” Joanna said. “We put up the menu each day and people call in with their order.”

As she jokily adds on her page, in the mood of the moment: “Panic buying appreciated, as long as you share the food with your elderly family, friends and next-door neighbours!”

More seriously, Joanna said: “We can do home delivery in Horsell if people are stuck at home, and we hope this service will be ongoing. It’s basically a knock on the door and go.

For more information on The Horsell Kitchen’s menu or to order, visit the café’s Facebook page, which also carries contact details.

For the full story get the 26 March edition of the News & Mail