The doors of Ipswich café Oikos may have been closed for the past two weeks, but owners Brett and Christie Briggs have been busier than ever.
Not only have they remodelled and renovated their café to allow for a separate coffee area and expanded kitchen, they are also set to launch a new side to their business when they reopen on Monday 18 May – the Not So General Store.
“We’ll still be serving coffee and our regular menu, but we’ll also be stocking things like specialty coffee items, great local produce like honey and south east Queensland apple-smoked bacon. We’ll have lots of delicious boutique items you wouldn’t find at a general store,” owner Brett Briggs said.
“We’ll also have a range of art and photography on the walls which will be for sale to help support local artists.”
The love for their customers will also be on display from next week, with freshly painted walls adorned with black and white photographs of some of the regulars, set against a backdrop of fairy lights.
“Throughout the time we’ve been shut, we’ve been inundated with support from our customers and people asking how they can help,” Mr Briggs said.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by it and are so grateful.”
Mr Briggs said that while COVID-19 had been challenging, he saw it as an opportunity to do more with the business.
“We’re all dealing with this, so we’re certainly not alone,” Mr Briggs said.
“We’ve tried to use this time as an opportunity to get to where we want to be, and by changing things up and blocking sections off, it’s given us the potential to do so much more.
“The window at the front of the shop gives us the option to make takeaways quicker, and our kitchen is extended now so it’s less crowded.”
Mr Briggs thanked family members Juan and Joanne Canas and Jason Jones for their help in renovating the store and said staff members had been amazing through a difficult period.
On top of his work at Oikos, Mr Briggs has also been working with community groups to help homeless and vulnerable people access support and housing during COVID-19.
“It’s a humbling thing,” Mr Briggs said.
“You’re seeing people who never would have thought they’d be reaching out for benefits and it’s not a bad thing for all of us to realise that we’re only a step or two away from needing help ourselves.
“I think something like COVID-19 grounds you as a community and makes people realise that they need each other and they’re not so self-reliant.”
Mr Briggs said the Oikos team was excited about reopening and asked for customers to be patient and continue social distancing.
“We’ve set up five tables for two people each to work with the restrictions of up to 10 people dining, and we’ll have takeaway as well,” Mr Briggs said.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing all our regulars again.”