Despite only being open for ten weeks between April 2020 and April 2021, Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar has recently been the focus of Cheltenham’s interest with their innovative crowdfunding campaign designed to generate forward sales and reconnect with their customer base.
Cheltenham BID’s Communications Assistant Alex Boulton spoke to founder Litu Mohiuddin and General Manager Rasel Mahmud about the business, the campaign and reopening plans.
How has the past year been for Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar?
The past year has been very difficult for Memsahib Gin and Tea bar. We could only trade for ten weeks out of 52 between April 2020 and April 2021. Due to our style of food and kitchen set up we were unable to offer a takeaway service. To add to the challenges, we had to close the business three times resulting in wasted stock.
Due to not having any real outdoor space, we couldn’t capitalise on good weather or the only outdoor opening period. When we were able to open, having to reduce 25% of seating capacity and increase staff due to COVID-19 safety requirements meant the overheads went through the roof whilst income fell. We lost all of the crucial Christmas period and of course the crowds that the racing would have brought in. All in all, not an ideal situation!
Why did you decide to set up the crowdfunding campaign? How has Cheltenham reacted?
Our crowdfunding campaign is based on a ‘pay it forward’ principle, making pledges for drinks, food, experiences and products. The idea was to get connected with our customers again which in turn certainly helps not only with the cashflow, but also a confidence boost for our staff and basis to bounce back stronger. The campaign will also help publish our cookbook and enable us to expand our distillery and retail offering. Furthermore, thanks to the support we are receiving we will reopen with added experiences including cookery classes and a walking tour with afternoon tea. The crowdfunding campaign will help to bring everything to life.
Cheltenham has reacted really well; we are truly grateful to our customers and our backers along with everyone who has helped shared our campaign.
What are your upcoming plans? What can visitors expect after reopening?
We will be re-opening on 18th May with a brand new local, green and sustainable menu that will look and taste just as fantastic as our previous Tasting and Afternoon Tea menus. We are also revisiting our drinks list to add more to the already brilliant list. We have also added a cookery masterclass to our monthly programme of events and once restrictions allow, there will be events including jazz and comedy nights held at the bar.
First and foremost, our priority will be to make our customers feel safe when visiting Memsahib Gin & Tea Bar. The team will continue to produce great food and drinks to go with our excellent service.
What are your best-selling food and drink items?
Our Tasting Menu is certainly the best-selling item on the menu and is what most people know us for. It can be taken with or without drinks, and a vegetarian option is also available. Our Tasting Menu is an experience to savour with your date, family, friends or a corporate gathering.
Our best-selling drinks are by far our house crafted gin and tonics. We currently have a list of 42 varieties of house-infused gin, ten of which are on the menu in accordance with season. The gin is paired with tonic, herb-infused ice, fresh botanicals and house dehydrated fruit. A gin drinking experience like no other and some say a work of art.
The Memsahib Marvels and Gin & Tea Bar Heroes campaign ends Thursday 15 April. You can visit the Crowdfunder page here.