It's hard to believe that eight months have already passed since we opened our Caversham restaurant. The journey has been an exhilarating one filled with constant changes and adaptations, a true reflection of the nature of the hospitality industry today. We have continually evolved to stay relevant while overcoming challenges: rising prices, staff shortages, soaring utility bills, just to name a few.
But there are always bright notes in this ever-evolving landscape, and one is that half of our crowdfunding gift vouchers have already been redeemed. This brings us immense joy, as it signifies progress in our mission to clear our debts, so we are celebrating with a beautiful bottle of wine generously given to us by the wonderful Mitchells, a beloved couple among our staff.
It's heartwarming to witness the positive impact our customers can have on our team's spirits. Just last month, one of our staff mentioned feeling down after an encounter with a particularly rude customer (fortunately, a very rare occurrence). And then the arrival of the Mitchells immediately lifted her spirits. That’s how much of a difference many of you make all the time in our stressful day-to-day environment.
Eight months ago, I don’t think my team fully understood my excitement when certain guests walked in. They were a little puzzled by the numerous hugs I received because they hadn't seen such warmth in a restaurant before.
But now, after eight months of shared experience, I am immensely proud when one of my staff comes and asks me about regulars: Graeme and Amy; Kevin and Allison; John and Maria; Lara and Ginni; Martin and Amanda, and countless others. They eagerly check the bookings ahead and occasionally regret not being scheduled on the days when these cherished regulars are in the house.
So today, along with our financial progress, I am equally celebrating the incredible impact that our customers have - not just on me but on my entire team. Clay’s is the restaurant I always wanted it to be - still the welcoming place where everyone is cherished and where becoming a regular means becoming part of our extended family. It's a place where you might be pleasantly surprised to find your friends seated at neighbouring tables.
As we look ahead to the rest of the year, I’m excited to share that we're working on a delightful Christmas and New Year's Eve menu, and that we’ll start taking bookings soon. I’ll have more on that for you soon. But until then, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the beautiful couples, families and friends who have given my staff and me countless cherished memories. You make the work we do even more enjoyable, and we look forward to continuing to give you all the very best possible service.