Patrons of Murrays Bakers had certainly been missing their treats, with customers out in force to support the local business.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that was definitely the case as customers flocked to Murrays Bakers in Perth on reopening day and bought pies in such large numbers they ran out.
Murrays ended up selling 2,000 pies after customers headed to the High Street bakers to warmly welcome them back to business.
Owner of bakery, Linda Hill, was greeted with a queue of hungry customers as she opened the doors on June 17.
And then the fun really began for the busy bakers when the phone began ringing off the hook and their social media messaging service went wild when Fair City folk found out they were offering afternoon teas.
Linda Hill said: “On the day we opened, there were 10 people queuing outside in anticipation and this continued until 2.15pm when we briefly ran out of pies! We sold over 2,000 pies that day – it really could not have been better.
“On day two I posted on social media that we were starting afternoon teas and it went crazy. The phone rang off the hook and there were over 100 messages on Facebook messenger. It took me all day and well in to the evening to get through them all. There was a massive demand.
“The Friday and Saturday saw a queue down the street for about 40 metres continuously. We were overwhelmed with the response to us reopening and I felt so emotional with how much we were welcomed back.”
Customers have been happy to observe social distancing rules as they patiently waited to get their hands on Murrays’ tasty fare.
Linda added: “People were very good at sticking to the two in and two out and the queue was pretty well behaved. Our opening really could not have gone better. It turned out I had not brought enough staff back off furlough, so we brought another bakery worker in on the Friday and two shop staff as well.
“After releasing the afternoon teas I even had to phone my daughter to plead with her to come in and help as it was bedlam!
“The bakers were run off their feet and my husband was doing 12-hour shifts. Definitely a family affair. The first day back I was going from serving, filling the counter, and taking telephone orders to being in the bakery lidding pies, packing up and carrying products to the shop.
“It has been a long time since I have had to work so hard for so long but I was running on adrenaline, it felt so good. I was just so happy to be open again and people said it felt like there was some sort of normality now Murrays had reopened.”
We are now in our second week and we are still steady and the afternoon teas have taken off big time. I have a full-time job on social media answering the messages and taking the orders.
Linda Hill, proprietor of Murrays.
And the “new normal” for Murrays Bakers is dealing with orders from hungry customers whether that be through social media or by telephones.
“We are now in our second week and we are still steady and the afternoon teas have taken off big time. I have a full-time job on social media answering the messages and taking the orders,” Linda revealed.
“Most customers are happy to pay by card but we are still taking cash if necessary and then using hand sanitiser in between customers if cash is used. We found that masks, visors and a hat is hard to do so its masks and hats on and it certainly gets warm behind the masks. I bought washable ones to use but we also have disposable as well so the staff can choose.
“It’s amazing how quickly people have adapted to queuing outside and only one from a family inside for the order. People are more prepared now to wait in a queue, it’s become the norm.”
Staff returning from furlough
With things now beginning to get busier and busier for the family-run operation, Linda has more staff members returning from furlough.
“We are getting ourselves into a good routine now in the bakery and shop. I am bringing another baker in from furlough and we will see how busy we are moving forward, but the good thing is from 1st July I can part-time work/part-time furlough staff if necessary,” she continued.
“I am so grateful that my customers have come out in their droves for our products and have missed our famous pies! We will continue to market the afternoon teas as long as needed and anything else we need to do to keep our business busy and our staff in employment. I am exhausted but happy!”
Warm welcome back
Linda was the first-ever female baker to take the World Scotch Pie Championship title, and she is also president-elect of Scottish Bakers, the industry organisation with more than 200 bakery members Scotland-wide.
Chief executive Alasdair Smith said: “It’s heartening to hear Linda’s story and I’m delighted for her and her team that they’ve been welcomed back so warmly to Perth City Centre. The coronavirus pandemic brought unprecedented pressures to bear on our Scottish Bakers members as restrictions on the economy took effect.
“While the majority of our members were able to continue production during this time, many were affected by the drop in customer footfall and the closure of the hospitality sector, as well as the challenges of implementing the required social distancing measures and concern for the wellbeing of their staff and customers.
“We’re delighted that the improving public health situation and further easing of lockdown is bringing much needed custom back to our high streets and communities and our members are ready to ensure everyone is able to get their fresh daily bread, savoury snacks and sweet treats. The sector employs 12,000 across Scotland and at the height of the lockdown, 80% of members had furloughed staff.”