Blend Kitchen forced to permanently close due to funding crisis

2nd November 2023

Blend Kitchen was incorporated in 2016 as a not for profit social enterprise to assist vulnerable adults into work.

Blend Kitchen was incorporated in 2016 as a not for profit social enterprise to assist vulnerable adults into work. Providing life changing training and employment opportunities to individuals affected by mental health and neurodiverse conditions, physical disabilities, homelessness, substance misuse, young people not in education, parents returning to work after raising children and those seeking asylum.

The initial finance came from grants and funding applications, but the long-term goal was that the Company would be able to sustain itself on day-to-day trade rather than external funding. 

Blend Kitchen started off as a pop-up around Sheffield, before moving in 2018 into temporary premises in the city centre (Pinstone Street). This location was always planned to be temporary prior to the Heart of the City development forcing relocation to a new permanent home on Ecclesall Road. After raising £350k and with the incredible support of numerous local businesses this state of the art restaurant and events space opened in April 2021 - right in the middle of the Pandemic!

The pre-pandemic business plan was to build on what we had and widen our reach across the city via external private catering. The impact of Covid on the hospitality sector, increased competition for funding, closely followed by a cost-of-living crisis created a perfect storm for Blend Kitchen in terms of our ability to deliver the ambitions of our business plan.

Footfall catastrophically dropped during this time and it did not return anywhere near pre-pandemic levels even after restrictions were lifted. Office workers did not return to the area surrounding the café, and the utilities at the site severely increased in cost. Additionally, the area did not develop as expected, leaving the business surrounded by empty units. 

In response to these difficulties, the Trustees chose to focus on growing the private catering side of the business. They also downsized the workforce and relied more on volunteers to decrease staff costs, as well as seeking pro-bono services where possible.

However, the decrease in funding available and increase in applicants for this funding, meant the Company had far lower than projected income. It became clear that the decreased income from grants and day-to-day trading in combination with higher costs meant the business was no longer viable and the Trustees took the difficult decision to liquidate the CIC.

“Our aim as a social enterprise was simple yet ambitious, to support and change the lives of some of the city’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised people. During our time we have provided hospitality experience, work and volunteering opportunities. For many, Blend Kitchen was their first experience of training and paid employment, giving many a more positive future, but unfortunately Blend Kitchen’s journey has come to an end”.

Gareth Jones - Trustee

"The trustees would like to acknowledge and thank all the volunteers, staff, partners, Ambassadors, Patrons and organisations that have supported us since our inception. It feels really sad that our journey has come to an end, but we can look back and be very proud of the home where “Good Food Does Good”.

Gareth Jones - Trustee

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