The takeover of the influencers and bloggers on social media meant for a lot of small businesses to find their voices and get the exposure they deserve through the words and images taken by this new generation of experts in communication.
Our Instagram feeds are full of images of lovely, cozy cafes around the world.
Coffee places are filled with stories and emotions, making us willing to visit those places at least once in our life.
Little do we know that behind those images, there are people who work hard every day to keep pushing and promoting their mini and micro businesses.
As a Google Local Guide, in the 1% among the most read reviewers, with almost a million views of my photos, I have been wandering the world discovering and helping other people to find cafes where you feel at home and where you will always come back.
Because let’s be honest: coffee or tea are hugs in small cups.
I know it very well, otherwise, I wouldn’t have spent the last six months of my life rebuilding with William an abandoned detached house in Herentals to make it a cozy cafe called the Rockstar Action Sports Cafe.
My family has been working in clubs, discos, and restaurants since forever.
My grandparents started it, my dad, then it was me.
But I went on the public relations and media communication side until the chance of opening something mine fell in my hands and I decided to go for it.
So I couldn’t be more aligned with the feelings of all my fellow entrepreneurs about the struggles of starting something from scratch and building it day by day.
Among those, there are my friends Ann and Jack.
In Westende, on the sea-side of Belgium, they opened back in 2018 a cozy cafe inspired by the shining years of the 70s: the In de Seventies.
Located twenty to thirty meters from the beach, and a few meters more from the sea, it’s a cafe filled with memorabilia of those years.
I recognize a lot of them because being the heiress of a legendary Italian night-club empire (maybe someday I will tell you more about my grandparents Felice and Giovanna Fava), I grow up among shiny pants, vinyl records, feathers, and disco balls.
Ann and Jack are, in my humble opinion, among the most kind and lovely business owners I ever met.
They never saw me, and neither they knew about what I do for a living as I came there with William’s family to visit them as friends of his parents.
But still, they greeted me with a huge smile as soon as we walked in.
The place is lovely, we got served fast, the drinks were prepared perfectly, and we had a great time.
They play music but to be honest, set to a volume that even someone like me with some hard-hearing issues can easily hear the person on the other side of the table.
The whole place is clean, the bathrooms spotless, and with decors that inspired me for my own place.
We spent a bit more than an hour here, to then go to dinner at a nearby restaurant.
A couple of weeks ago, I read from Ann’s Facebook that they are going through some troubles with the In de Seventies due to one of these neighbors who complains a lot.
We all have one, including us here in Herentals.
The condo where In de Seventies is established is a vacational and rental building where families come once or twice a year for an average, to spend some time on the beach.
So we are talking of people who live in the house for a maximum of two weeks per year.
One of them (!!! not even two or three families: just ONE person) filled a complaint to the police about smells and loud music coming from the In de Seventies, restraining them from being able to rest.
The case went on and on and it arrived at a point, where Ann and Jack are risking to lose their only income and life-project.
The police came, measured the volumes and checked the cafe, and notified that everything there is made by following the laws.
Somehow, this whole story arrived at the extremes with the other subject demanding Ann and Jaques every four months, costing them an incredible amount of money.
The major of Westende has also expressed his perplexities about the case and fully supporting the In de Seventies.
I am known for being straight forward in my reviews, and to be honest, if a place was noisy and smelly, I am sorry but I would have left to go somewhere else.
Being on the spectrum means that strong smells, places that are too loud, are triggering for me, so I wouldn’t be able to stay there not even ten minutes, let alone more than an hour.
I have been reading the accusations made to Ann and Jack and they are absolutely unfounded.
I am deeply saddened by the whole situation.
First of all, they are respectful people and prone to serve others with the love and passion marking their service at the coffee.
Second, we are talking about closing a business that helps Westende to move the economy and tourism.
People nowadays seek cozy places, places where there are corners to take photos and make memories out of them.
We drove for two hours to go there and visit this coffee place.
This all story about closing it is going to be a great, great mistake.
And honestly, closing business because of a person who lives there twelve days per year, is absolutely insane.
It is not fair.
Not fair to the poor Ann and Jack, struggling already with the tragedy of the Coronavirus and the limits imposed to contain it, not to the economy of Westende which deserve a heartwarming place like In de Seventies for the tourism.
I hope, that the whole community of Westende will come together, moving hearts and signatures to help them.