Thanet business owner struggles amid covid restrictions but touched by help from community

Proper Coffee shop owner and cat lover Lucy Cook

By Jodie Nesling

Business owners across the isle are continuing to face financial hardship despite receiving support from the Government.

While grants and furlough schemes have helped cover fixed costs there are still outstanding responsibilities for rent surplus, insurances and other expenses.

Lucy Cook runs Proper Coffee in Margate High Street and has overheads of £1k a month in rent, £450 on electric and an extra £100 on insurance – all which need to be paid.

She said: “I have set up an online shop to help with money which sells sprinkles and cake toppers, coffee beans and cup cakes. It wasn’t worth opening the shop again – you’re running at a loss otherwise. We’re not in an ideal location here. Footfall is hit and miss and there are many empty units in the High Street before the pandemic.”

She added: “All the costs add up with extra disposal cups and PPE and you can’t put prices up,” 

The cafe employs three members of staff and Lucy hopes they will return to work as soon as restrictions ease.

But Lucy, who also runs the Missing Cats and Strays Thanet facebook page, says she’s been touched at how the community have pulled together in times of need. “During the first lockdown and before I received a grant I literally had no money in any of my accounts. The owner of Games Console went to Aldi and bought me a bag of shopping including cat food,” she said.

Thanet Business Network has been helpful and she says an online forum of cafe owners has been a wealth of knowledge. She said: “They have come up with really good ideas that you can try yourself  – the owners are from all over the country. There was a sad case of this woman who had put everything into her business and the landlord put the rent up by £250. Everyone chipped in to help her so she ended up being able to rent a new premises.”

Lucy says she hopes the website will help generate some extra income during these trying times and will be the first to pass on business to others. “If I can get a cake enquiry that’s outside my skill set then I’ll always pass it on to another baker.”

To order from Proper Coffee visit


Government announced a new raft of funding measures last month which is administered by Thanet council.

These include:

  • One-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring
  • Part of a £594 million discretionary fund has also been made available to support other impacted businesses
  • The one-off top-ups are granted to closed businesses as follows:
  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Last month Thanet council created a special team to work through the Additional Restrictions Grants (ARGs).

The team has also processed the Christmas Support Payment for wet-led pubs, worked through outstanding applications and reviewed appeals. 

For more information and details of other business support available:

– visit Thanet council’s COVID-19 business support pages

– email [email protected] to sign-up for updates direct to your inbox

– request to join  Thanet Business Support Facebook Group

– call the business support line (03333 602300), delivered by the Kent & Medway Growth Hub, between 8:30am and 5pm Monday – Friday.

Read here: Coffee, cakes and cats at Margate High Street cafe