'I’m missing the customers and the team I work with.'
Keith Wildman, The Record Café
Life on lockdown

Keith Wildman is the owner of The Record Café in Bradford. Established in 2014 The Record Cafe is an independent vinyl record shop and speciality beer cafe, serving charcuterie and cheese – vinyl, ale, and ham. They were recently voted Bradford CAMRA Pub of the Year 2020, the third time they have picked up the award in the 6 years they have been open.

How has the corona virus affected the Record Cafe?

We’ve had to close our doors and furlough staff. So we’re closed until further notice. I did toy with the idea of going on line and / or doing home deliveries, pay on vouchers etc, but nothing is guaranteed with that, and the government schemes in place, at the moment, will help us get through this. I thought it more important we reduce our footprint and follow the government advice. Stay at home, and don’t go out it you don’t have to. Obviously each business has their own plans but this was best for us.

What are you missing the most about running the bar?

I’m missing the customers and the team I work with. The excitement of buying something in that someone wants to buy – whether it’s food, records or beer – and just the mental buzz and stress of being busy! The buzz of people enjoying what you’re offering, and ‘curating’ an atmosphere that makes people want to come back. Before this I’d not had so much as a week off in 6 years. So all this time and a relatively free mind is a bit of a shock.

Is there anything your customers do to support you during the lock down?

The best thing people can do is stay at home. To help get this over with sooner. And the sooner this is over, the sooner we can reopen.

"I’m missing the customers and the team I work with. The excitement of buying something in that someone wants to buy - whether it’s food, records or beer - and just the mental buzz and stress of being busy!

You work with lots of independent breweries, do you think the industry be able to bounce back strongly?

I’m trying not to think too long term. I just look at a day and a week at a time. Otherwise the whole situation becomes too overwhelming. I think like every business all over the world right now, some will bounce back and some won’t. It’s not going to be easy as who knows what the other side of this will look like.

What have you learned from the lock down and is there anything you will do differently as a business once things return to normal?

I think there’s a lot to learn, and there’s a lot of time to think about it. This could well change people’s shopping and socialising habits for good, and I think we’ll have to look at that and adapt.

Is there anything you have been enjoying about the lock down? What have you been doing to keep yourself busy?

As i’ve said. I’ve not had a week off since we opened in November 2014, so it’s nice to have a rest. I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning at home, gardening on my balcony and catching up with the huge backlog of books I’ve acquired over the last 6 years. Like a lot of people I’ve also been doing a lot of cooking and eating, which I enjoy! There’s also a lot of admin I’ve got to do, and I still need to call in to work to check all is still ok there.

Can you recommend any local independents offering quality produce during lock down?

Between them, Sollys and Roswitha Delicatessen in Bradford’s John Street Market and Paul Binns Quality Meats in Saltaire have been providing everything I need. Honourable mention to Plant One On Me too who are out and about delivering houseplants! There’s plenty of people out there who’ve been adapting their businesses to cope with the current situation and I applaud them all.

What does the Record Cafe have in-store once you’re able to re-open?

Hopefully carrying on where we left off. We’re due to have the Bradford CAMRA Pub of the Year presentation, and we’ll have to see whether we can still do this year’s vintage bus trip. 

But I’d just want to carry on focusing on what we do, and doing it as well as we can.

"This could well change people’s shopping and socialising habits for good, and I think we’ll have to look at that and adapt.

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