A shot of tequila in your coffee or a dash of flavoured liqueur in your tea may be exactly what you need to start, or perhaps end, your day.
At least, that’s the thinking behind Gregory Weekes’ popular Spiked Café at C3 Centre, San Fernando. Weekes and his wife came up with the concept of boozed-up hot and cold café beverages after seeing the success of the combinations at coffeehouses while travelling abroad.
The long, socially-distanced, line at Spiked Café on Wednesday proved they might be on to something special.
“We wanted to bring out a dining experience with a twist that had a different focus than other respected providers in the market. We wanted to make it fun. So what we do is spike your coffee and spike your tea,” an affable Weekes said with a genuine glint of excitement in his eyes when he sat with the Kitcharee at his café on Wednesday.
Spiked Café radiated a warm, inviting yellow glow at the far end of the dimly lit corridor at MovieTowne on Wednesday. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has rendered the usually crowded theatre a ghost town. Still, an inviting aroma of freshly ground coffee beckoned all curious enough to peer through the unlocked theatre doors. Inside the café, cobblestone walls and ambient lighting greeted regulars into a familiar cozy space as a barista worked quickly to fill mounting orders.
“We offer, in non-pandemic times, cozy dining. It’s an informal café. We spent a lot of time in the design, making it cozy and rustic so you could come and relax and eat informal food,” Weekes said, bringing wondering eyes back to his stare.
A Restaurant Week treat
Spiked offered six packages for the recently concluded Trinidad and Tobago Restaurant Week (TTRW) all at $100. The first four include a main – a sandwich, panini or pasta, a specialty spiked drink and a dessert. They also have a smoothie package – four smoothies of your choice and a specialty cake package which comes with a signature spiked drink. The good news is those offerings, which were extended by a full week, end today. So depending on when you read this, there are but a few hours left to get your spiked fix.
“There is something for everybody. We have vegetarian and vegan options. We try to offer a spread so most people can partake, so hopefully a lot of people can find something they love on our menu. But separate from the Restaurant Week special, the full menu remains available,” Weekes said.
Despite his cheerfulness Weekes said the challenges of running a coffeehouse in the middle of a global pandemic have at times put him in hot water. Business has gone off the boil. And while he remains optimistic and committed to grinding through with their new curbside pick-up and home delivery offerings, his understanding staff has been the real steam behind their still running java machine.
“It has been very difficult but our perspective is we have to try. Things are understandably tough and as with most other players in the market, there is a significant component you’re unable to provide (in-house dining) and that leads to an underlying impact on cash flow.
“I need to give credit to our staff. I mean we have a wide age range of younger to older folks, but there has been a maturity across the staff in which they recognise the circumstances we are operating with. So the fact that your salary not looking as big as it was before, we all understand and everybody has been doing their part to come out and contribute positively,” he said sincerely.
Long term, however, the current model isn’t sustainable, Weekes said. He remains positive that public health education and legislative measures will ultimately lead to a decrease in viral cases in Trinidad and an easing of the needed restrictions. Until then, though, he says everything remains “a balancing act in these times”.
“The reality is the current environment of the whole country is not sustainable, so we’re hoping with people becoming more aware and more responsible we can have a slowing of the numbers to support an easing of restrictions. And even if all restrictions can’t go away we have to look at the areas of opportunity where we can ease some restrictions and get back to normal business,” he concluded.
Until then we’ll take our Spiked coffee to go, Mr Weekes.