We’ve learnt a lot this last year or so about having to adapt! Transforming ourselves with resilience and creativity to the next version of Rafikis to enable our small business to survive.
Rafikis began in October 2018 as a small indoor cafe with sharing tables, an eclectic ‘all day brunch’ menu of recipes gathered from our travels around the world, and decor to match.
We believe that every small business can make a difference in the world through its sourcing and operating choices. We opened with optimism that Ashburton was ready for a veggie and vegan cafe but were, and still are, careful not to preach our morals at every opportunity - rather win people over simply with good delicious food and a warm and welcoming atmosphere..
Rafikis quickly became a busy and much loved place in the community, for all sorts of folk of all sorts of ages, regardless of dietary choice. We opened 6 days a week and Friday nights at Rafikis became quite legendary and a lot of fun.
Then in spring 2020 the pandemic began and our cafe would never be the same again. Like all hospitality businesses we struggled to continue before the government announced a national lockdown. When it finally did we quickly realised the best thing we could do was work as a family to operate a takeaway kitchen, whilst furloughing the staff to keep them safe. The takeaway was a huge success, luckily, growing quite a following, and happily we were able to offer free food to NHS workers or anyone at all just needing a break. From August 2020 we re-opened but with tables only outside and remained outside in between lockdowns other than a brief attempt at coming indoors with screens and limited numbers in December - that didn't work! By Spring 2021 we decide to give up on returning indoors, expand our tiny kitchen a little into what was the cafe, and rent the whole yard from Ashburton Arts Centre - to whom we will be eternally grateful! They saved our tofu so to speak! The yard became a happy place for locals and tourists alike, musicians played and a lot of coffee and food was served! We stayed outdoors, whatever the weather, until end of October...but now its cold and time for another version of Rafikis; Rafikis at Number 14.
This is our winter hideout and we are very grateful to Sophie for renting it to us. It enables us to open days and evenings and provide a welcoming place, with more space and an outside courtyard which remains important in these strange times. The only thing it doesn't have is a kitchen! So, in true Rafikis style we are adapting and providing the best menu we can to suit. All our food will still be made from scratch in our Rafikis kitchen, ingeniously ferried over to Number 14 and served from here. We cannot cook to order here so our menu offering is different, but it will be tasty so bare with us! If you are already panicking about the lack of Bahn Mi, Berber Eggs, Ravenous Rafikis or Sabich, then stay calm, and like us, look forward to their return when we, once more, like swallows migrate to the yard in the spring! We hope you enjoy winter with us here, we look forward to welcoming you.