It’s difficult to put into words the past week. After 2yrs of documents and hurdles, we finally opened the Cafe to the public!
After so much waiting, I was admittedly nervous to open the doors. It’s like planning a long journey.. you can plan in your mind, pack in advance, but then the day arrives and panic sets in, there’s still more to do! I’ve had to quickly make schedules, train on cookie baking, shopping and cleaning routines.. amazing how God can use our old part time jobs years down the road – thank you Olive Garden!
This first week I decided to play it safe – no advertising, just a couple balloons on our deck and a chalkboard out front. We saw a slow, but steady trickle that accumulated to over 100 customers our first week, selling 140 products!
It’s been very interesting to see when we are busy, and not. I thought we’d be the busiest in the morning, but it’s the afternoon crowd that likes to come inside, sit and make themselves at home so far. Hardly anyone, once coming inside, decides to take it ‘to go’.
We have probably a 60% student demographic so far. Another large group is women, 25-40 range. I hadn’t thought of this, but there isn’t anything for women really in our town. The bars are dark and dirty for the most part. However several groups of women that looked like on break from work have gathered for a Latte and experience the Lighthouse Cafe.
Our customers have been very gracious. Although some come in, look at our limited options, check us out and leave, 75% of them are keen to try out this new experience. They love the atmosphere, and we already have 3-4 repeat loyal customers. There are a couple sets of students that have come 5 days in a row.. making it their own. A few of them are bringing laptops and staying for hours, but most are there for 20 minutes then leave.
We have so much more to learn, and it seems daily we are tweaking things from our drink portions, prices and shape of cookies.
Thankfully, God has put together for us a great little starting team. At first it was just Dema and myself, but then we realized we needed to open more fully, and needed help. A group of refugees from the Mariupul area fled to our town and are staying with Simeon down the street. Anyway, one of the young girls staying with her Mom at Simeon’s is now working with us. She is a very creative and talented young lady, reminding me of my daughter in many ways – just a bit older.
Broderic and Bronwyn are starting to work now part time a few times a week. I told them it was part of their school so I don’t have to pay them – we’re currently in negotiations about that!
I now need to get packing, I leave Sunday for week. Please pray for Deb, the doctors thinks she may go early, but what do doctors know eh? She has 5 weeks left, when I get back, her parents arrive a few days later, then we will be really close to baby #8. Also pray for the Cafe please, a bit nervous just getting going into a rhythm and having to leave, the timing is a bit crazy, but I believe God opens doors for reason, and I’m blessed to go and deposit a bit of my heart and hopefully some encouraging teaching from scripture to some students in Eastern Russia.
Folks are very concerned about this winter, and the ability to keep a house warm. Ukraine is warning residents of the winter months, to find other sources of heat than gas. We still haven’t received our load of wood which was ordered 6 weeks ago. The prices are escalating quickly, if you can get it. Even if we receive it, it’s not enough to keep our house truly warm, and they are saying electricity may also be limited – the real bargaining chip I think our neighbors to the East have been waiting for to keep Ukraine in their sphere of influence.
The kids school will be shutting down for at least 2 months in the winter because they know they won’t be able to heat it – having a baby in the middle of this limits our options of escape, our baby won’t be able to travel without a passport which takes a while – first have to declare US citizen birth abroad.. anyway, not your problem. We will do our best but also making alternative plans if things are too difficult for our family. Our hearts are here, but if we can’t stay warm we’ll have to make that a priority.
Thanks for checking in, we’ll post some pictures of our Cafe/guests more in the future.. didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable out of the gate running around with a camera. We’ll do that later once we know them 🙂
Bruce & Deb