How Claire's Cafe in a layby near Harborough has continued to be a success story despite lockdown
“It’s just incredible how well we’ve taken off and have become so well known right across the area"
A high-octane mum’s roadside café on the edge of Market Harborough has blasted through the devastating Covid-19 crisis with flying colours.
Claire Blyth, 36, had to close for all of April as she couldn’t get enough supplies from wholesalers forced to shut down during the crippling outbreak.
But her pride and joy, Claire’s Café, has come roaring back bigger and better than ever as her loyal army of customers swells by the day.
Cooking on gas, thrilled Claire, of Kibworth Meadows, Kibworth, told the Harborough Mail: “We are going great guns and we are growing all the time.
“It’s just incredible how well we’ve taken off and have become so well known right across the area.
“It’s very hard work but it’s been worth every minute that I’ve put into it.”
The livewire mum-of-three opened her super snackbar in a layby on the A6 Kibworth road near Harborough’s McDonald’s roundabout in April 2019.
“I used to work as a care worker in Market Harborough years ago and I loved that.
“But I’ve always wanted to be my own boss,” said Claire.
She said she hadn’t worked for five years and was finding it hard to get a job because her youngest child Jayden, six, has Chime syndrome and is severely disabled.
The very rare condition sadly means the youngster, who attends Birkett House special school, Wigston, suffers epilepsy and cannot talk as he battles a range of health problems.
“I love him to bits but he clearly requires extra care so I decided to set up my own business.
“It took me eight months just to sort out all the legal and technical details,” said Claire, who also has Georgie, 12, and Jack, 19.
“My close friend James Bullock, who’s also the father of our son Jayden, has also been fantastic.
“He’s helped me get set up and inspired me from the start to go for it and plough my own furrow, make my own way.
“My mum Melanie’s moved in with us and she helps clean and look after my children.
“She’s been amazing, too, so it’s a brilliant team effort all round.”
The fired-up entrepreneur said she now attracts about 80-90 hungry customers every day.
“We are open from 9am-2.30pm Monday to Friday.
“We have people coming to us from all over the Harborough area,” smiled Claire, who also takes her trailer café to Kibworth Football Club matches at Birds Barn on weekends.
“People tell me they actually drive out of their way to come and tuck in and enjoy a cuppa at my café!
“Our fame has spread by word of mouth and we have a real big reputation to uphold now.
“I’ve been awarded a five-star hygiene rating and I take a huge pride in what I do.
“We are obviously observing strict social distancing to keep everyone safe.
“Many of our customers have become good friends as well.
“We have a laugh and a bit of cheerful banter.
“I serve a lot of long-distance lorry drivers who might not get the chance to talk to anyone else all day.
“I also see older people who are very lonely, especially during this coronavirus lockdown.
“They love popping along for a beefburger, a steak baguette or a bacon sarnie, a cup of tea and a good natter.
“We were worried that the crisis might knock us back after we’ve done ever so well to build up the business from scratch.
“But we have got the momentum straight back, I’m busier than ever and we are booming.”
Her close friend James Bullock, 38, of Kettering, told the Mail: “I am so proud of Claire – and her family are too.
“She could have easily sat back and taken state benefits after struggling to find a job to suit her hours.
“But she’s shown massive determination, drive and desire to set up Claire’s Café and turn it into such a roaring success.”
James, a machine operator at Weetabix in Corby, added: “Claire would not be beaten – and now her hard work, guts, skills and amazing character are paying off.
“She’s a natural, a very special person, and I’m sure she’ll continue to go from strength to strength.”