AN INDEPENDENT cafe is reaping the rewards for its quick-thinking after setting up a home delivery service to survive lockdown.

Like many businesses in the hospitality sector, Organic Deli Cafe & Whole Foods Store in the city centre was hit by a dramatic decline in revenue as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

As income dried up, husband-and-wife team Trevor and Cristina Bennett decided to start their own online delivery service for customers in Oxfordshire.

At its peak, they were processing 120 orders every day of the week, which Mr Bennett revealed was vital for the business.

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The Kidlington resident said: "It's all balancing out. Without the delivery service, we would have had to close.

"We've had a rollercoaster of emotions through lockdown, as many businesses have, so it was a struggle.

"It wouldn't have been viable, even with just me in the store."

The environmentally-friendly cafe is located in Friars Entry, between Magdalen Street and Gloucester Green, and can normally count on several revenue streams.

As well as the cafe, shop and delivery service – originally through a third party – the business provides event catering.

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This was an obvious casualty of lockdown and Mr Bennett, 39, explained this helped force their hand.

He said: "We were getting concerned, as we were losing external catering events left, right and centre.

"It dropped off a cliff literally overnight and there was suddenly no business at all.

"We decided to go full throttle with putting everything online.

"My wife was at home adding pictures and stock to the website and I was making sure the store was well-stocked.

"We went nuts on social media. I believe it was through this that we were getting more noticed and that was driving more traffic."

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The business furloughed four staff during lockdown, while another remained in the kitchen to assist Mr Bennett.

Two have now returned to work, although the business was forced to make the others redundant.

The peak for online orders lasted a full seven weeks, with deliveries now down to an average of 20 to 30 across seven days.

But the cafe is now being boosted by the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which allows diners a 50 per cent discount at participating establishments on Mondays to Wednesdays in August.

It means Mr Bennett can see a light at the end of the tunnel for the business he started with his wife 11 years ago.

He said: "Eat Out to Help Out has really worked well for us.

"People are coming in and asking for the promotion and that's kept our staff in employment.

"I'd love to see what September and October will bring.

"Oxford University students will start coming back in October, so we'll hopefully see a kind of normality from then."