A Lewisham café owner has been selected to star in a nationwide campaign by Coca-Cola, which aims to get independent businesses back on their feet.

Rose-Mary Garsi, owner of Two Spoons, a high street café at Honor Oak Park, is one of hundreds of entrepreneurs chosen in Coco-Cola's Open Like Never Before campaign. 

The café is featured on billboards in Waterloo Station, as well as digital advertising screens across Lewisham, to encourage footfall after a challenging six months for the hospitality sector.

Ms Garsi said:

“It’s a great opportunity for us because we are a very small business. We have been working all the way through the lockdown and it was a real struggle – but now we have an extra pair of hands to help us spread the word that we are here for our local community. This campaign is going to be a massive boost, that’s for sure.”

Two Spoons insists it remained open thanks to the support of loyal customers, who helped the cafe provide 20 meals per week for people in care homes over lockdown.

But Ms Garsi said the pandemic has been a “wipe-out” for small businesses, with several other local venues closing their doors.

According to research by Censuswide, conducted for Coca-Cola, a third (33%) of pubs, restaurants and cafés in London are concerned about the future of their business, after seeing significantly fewer customers in August than normal. 

Just 12% of hospitality businesses said that the customer numbers had returned to normal since they were allowed to reopen on July 4, while more than two fifths (42%) of those which have reopened said they would need sales to increase quickly for their business to survive.

Many said that marketing and advertising would help them increase footfall, but a third claimed to not have the budget or the digital skills to do so. 

Bryony Lester, Marketing Manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain said:

“This has been an exceptionally challenging time for many individuals, brands and businesses. We saw it as our responsibility to continue to support the economic recovery during this challenging time and that is why we focused our efforts on how we can make a tangible difference for our retail partners, customers and local communities.

“Two Spoons is a pillar of its local community. We are excited to be able to help them and other small businesses to encourage consumers to support their local cafés, bars and restaurants at this crucial time.”