Worthing café survives first year after opening one week before lockdown

Just over twelve months ago Jordan Luxford opened his first café at what was arguably the worst possible time.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 4:27 pm

Jordan’s Café in South Farm Road was open for a grand total of six days before the first national lockdown took hold on March 23, 2020.

The 21-year-old former chip shop manager was brought crashing down to Earth and fearing for his fledgling business’ survival.

But in the face of adversity he reinvented himself as a pillar of the community, providing free meals for key workers and those most in need.

Jordan's Café in Worthing opened one week before the first lockdown. It's survived, done lots of community work. Owner, Jordan Luxford with some of his team. Pic S Robards SR2103132 SUS-210313-170047001

“I didn’t expect to do even half of what we’ve done in this little time,” said Jordan, who did not envisage doing very much community work at all when he started.

“I am really, really proud of what we have done. It’s not just me, we’ve worked with so many other people.

“I’ve lived in Worthing all my life and when you are helping people in your own community it’s amazing. It’s brilliant to get these messages off people saying ‘you have helped us’.”

During the first lockdown, Jordan and his team delivered hundreds of free sandwiches to key workers and local charities such as Turning Tides.

When footballer Marcus Rashford stood up against the Government’s decision to not offer free meals while schools were closed, Jordan’s Café joined businesses across the town in support.

Free meals were made and delivered to the town’s children and, following the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore, the café donated 100 bacon sandwiches to the NHS in his memory.

At Christmas, the café hosted a Santa’s Grotto alongside town crier Bob Smytherman and Bella Regnante from One Stop Party Shop to raise money for Chestnut Tree House.

Jordan said the grotto was a prime example of the community pulling together throughout the pandemic.

Bella in particular had been a pillar of support, he said, and without her much of the café’s fine work would not have been possible.

He also paid tribute to the financial support provided by the Government and, in some cases, distributed by Worthing Borough Council.

Initiatives such as business rate holidays, grants and the furlough scheme meant he had not had to worry so much about survival and could instead focus on giving back to the community.

As has been the case with so many businesses during the pandemic, Jordan has also inadvertently added another string to his bow.

He said he ‘had never dreamed’ of offering deliveries when he first opened, but lockdown has proven that is now a viable option.

As a novice businessman his learning curve could not have been more steep, but he said the lessons learned over the last year are invaluable.

If the UK’s emergence from lockdown stays on track, hospitality businesses will be able to serve people outdoors from April 12, in groups of up to six.

After a testing year, it marks a light at the end of the tunnel for Jordan and his team.

“I’m glad we stuck to it, because at the time we were really nervous,” he said.

“Now we’re just excited for when this whole Covid thing disappears so we can try and push our business on.”

With the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown passing on Tuesday, we have spoken to readers, councillors and business leaders to look back on an historic, tragic and often unpredictable year.

Read our special report on pages four and five for more.