Two Banbury business partners adapt to Covid-19 pandemic with new business

Chris Chandler, and his brother-in-law, Kenny Gillett, launched the The Coffee Guys - a mobile coffee van - several months ago in Banbury town centre.
Chris Chandler, and his brother-in-law, Kenny Gillett, launched the The Coffee Guys, a mobile coffee van, around five or six months ago in the town centre of BanburyChris Chandler, and his brother-in-law, Kenny Gillett, launched the The Coffee Guys, a mobile coffee van, around five or six months ago in the town centre of Banbury
Chris Chandler, and his brother-in-law, Kenny Gillett, launched the The Coffee Guys, a mobile coffee van, around five or six months ago in the town centre of Banbury

The business venture represented a new beginning for both men, who have been business owners in town for more than 40 years combined.

The plan was to do festivals, events and two days a week at the Banbury market. The Covid-19 pandemic, at least temporarily, changed that plan. So the two business partners obtained a permanent street permit to place their mobile coffee van in the market area of the town centre.

Making a good coffee is not something new for Chris. He formerly ran a coffee shop and cafe in town for 17 years in Church Lane called Chandlers.

Chris Chandler, and his brother-in-law, Kenny Gillett, launched the The Coffee Guys, a mobile coffee van, around five or six months ago in the town centre of BanburyChris Chandler, and his brother-in-law, Kenny Gillett, launched the The Coffee Guys, a mobile coffee van, around five or six months ago in the town centre of Banbury
Chris Chandler, and his brother-in-law, Kenny Gillett, launched the The Coffee Guys, a mobile coffee van, around five or six months ago in the town centre of Banbury

He added: "I use the same coffee supplier so it wasn't like we were completely starting from new."

Chris and Kenny use Piccolo Mondo coffee, which means 'small world' in Italian, from a supplier in a Pillerton Hersey, a village between Banbury and Stratford.

Opening The Coffee Guys is something that has allowed Chris and Kenny to continue working through the Covid-19 pandemic as local businessmen.

Chris said: "It's something that we can still carry on trading through the pandemic. It's worked out quite well.

"Kenny was looking for something to do, and it's something we can do together.

"It's something that works well during the pandemic, and it's outside. Some people feel more comfortable outside so it's worked out quite well."

Chris stopped short of saying they were busy. But they now have regulars who stop by for a coffee.

He added: "Certain days are better than others. It's very weather dependant.

"Since the lockdown started we've had lots of dog walkers who stop by for a coffee. We get regular customers who come every day on their daily walk.

"It's working out quite well. There does seem to be people in town despite what's happening. Clearly people are out on their daily walk or stopping by the banks (open nearby in the market). But the town is obviously still more quiet."

Kenny is also working to make deliveries from online orders at his family-owned party business, Sweet Celebrations.

He said: "Our party shop Sweet Celebrations is not open, but we are taking orders for balloons and are doing deliveries. We have had our shop Sweet Celebrations for 25 years.

"I had another company called Party4me Ltd. We used to sell fancy dress online, but when Covid hit we had to close down. So we thought a coffee cart could be a good idea.

"I used to have a street pitch 26 years ago on the Banbury High Street selling greetings cards so I knew street pitches were available."

Coffee isn't the only thing they offer at the mobile coffee van.

Chris added: "We're one of the few places with Banbury Cakes in town. We have people who come by just for the Banbury Cakes."

Due to the large number of dog walkers who stop by The Coffee Guys now also offer 'dog treats.'

The lockdown hours of operation for The Coffee Guys are 9am to 3.30pm Monday through Saturday weather dependant. The usually post when will not be in the town centre on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Chris added: "Whenever we come out of lockdown and the weather is nice we'll be here for 7.30 in the morning to catch people on the way to work."