“The risks were the same as anytime” – Why Skaus opened their new cafe in a pandemic

Date: 13/01/2021

Across the city, there is no doubt that restaurants and businesses have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, but for two business partners it was nowhere near game over.

After around four years of operating in countless pop-up sites, Skaus have found the perfect place to call home. To us it is 66 Allerton Road, but to them it is a culmination of all their hard work under one permanent roof.

The Scandinavian inspired store and cafe provides the people of Liverpool with expertly handcrafted sauces, pickles and puddings, while the simplicity of their dishes remains traditional to the ‘Scandi’ cuisine.

The Liverpool duo behind Skaus, Dan Cameron and Josh Lundon, were far from put off by the current crisis and in a world without coronavirus they believe there are always risks and uncertainty of opening a new business.

We asked Dan from the much-loved independent about Skaus’ new home and why they were brave enough to open.

What made you open in the height of a pandemic?

“When we first viewed 66 Allerton Road, we both knew it was perfect and everything just kind of fell into line despite it being Covid. I think seeing the amount of support the public were giving to small independent businesses like ourselves around the city alongside finding the perfect site left us with the confidence that we’d be able to do well despite opening during these crazy times!”

“The risks were the same as anytime opening a new business but just with the added confusion of national lockdowns and tier systems.

“Josh and I have wanted to do this since we were kids so to be opening during such testing times and have gotten such an amazing reaction means a lot to us and our team.”

Since being at your new place has the menu changed or grown?

“We have learnt a lot about what people like, what people want to eat, what people like to drink from serving in so many different areas of the city for so long. We have quite a broad customer base too so hitting all the right spots with the products is something we’ve had to study and balance over the years.

“We do try some interesting stuff out in the shop ‘Icelandic lava salt churned in-house, homemade ferments and pickles, cured fish’ and it all seems to go down quite well.

“We obviously have the staples such as the hasselback chips and the Scouse too. We couldn’t not have them on the menu. People go mad for them.

How has the support been from locals and customers?

“The support we’ve had since we opened though has surpassed even what we expected. The number of regulars we’ve gotten already despite having only been open a few months is crazy, and the way the word has spread round the surrounding areas is something I’ve not seen before.

“Not just for us, but generally for our industry, this shift in people’s attention to the smaller independent companies in the city has been vitally important and it’s probably the key reason why we haven’t lost too many venues up to now. The people of Liverpool generally have really shown their support to everyone throughout Covid, not just us.

“Put simply, shopping local and shopping small is going to be the only way we can keep the cities’ small, independent businesses alive once the dust settles with all of this.

What challenges have you overcome?

“We are quite adaptable as a team but the constant changing of service along with the lack of notice provided with regards to rules and tier changes has been the toughest thing to get used to. You get into a good rhythm and then all of a sudden, the way your rota and service operates is changed at the drop of a hat.

“Obviously, it’s when the cafe is open and there are bums on seats that we do the best, but considering how tough these times are we definitely can’t complain about how things are going. Hopefully we’ll be able to get through these next few weeks and get service back to normal as soon as possible.

What is next for Skaus?

“We’re still brand new to the site so we’re very much finding our feet on Allerton Road. Hard to believe we’ve only been open a few months. I think the next phase for the site will be to launch our evening supper club events similar to the pop-ups we ran in the early days of 2017/2018.

“Looking further down the line, will there be a Skaus number two or three? We’ll see once everything goes back to some kind of normal again!

Written by Tanisha Cantrell