The Flower Cup (COVID-19 Update)

My flat white, made with a naturally-processed Brazilian single-origin from Neighbourhood Coffee, and served at The Flower Cup in a fetching yellow cup with a blue saucer and some awesome latte art.Chester’s The Flower Cup, tucked away on the upper level of the city’s famous Rows on Watergate Street, had already been open for three years by the time I belatedly visited at the very end of 2019. Serving some excellent breakfasts, brunches and lunches, backed up by Neighbourhood Coffee on espresso and pour-over, I was immediately impressed. Keen to make up for lost time, I returned in February and then along came COVID-19 to temporarily put an end to things. So, when I heard that The Flower Cup had reopened following the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions, it was top of my list when I returned to Chester on Friday.

Everywhere I’ve visited since the start of July has done a good job in retaining something of the pre COVID-19 atmosphere, but none has managed it quite as well as The Flower Cup. Despite the obvious changes (the sign at the door, the one-way system and the staff wearing masks for example), it really felt like The Flower Cup of old, a tribute to owner, Milli, manager, Laura, and all the staff. What’s more, The Flower Cup has retained its full menu, serving everything on proper plates, the drinks in proper cups.

You can see what else I found after the gallery.

  • The Flower Cup, in Chester, as seen during my visit last week, and, in the next photo...
  • ... in pre-pandemic times from my visit in February, where you can see the outdoor seating.
  • Looking from the other side (taken last week), you can see the upgraded outdoor seating.
  • I like the little footstool acting as the step, with the flower pots marking the edge.
  • Meanwhile, down the front of The Flower Cup, footsteps show you where to queue.
  • The reason becomes apparent when you get to the door: there are new systems in place!
  • Inside, The Flower Cup looks very similar, but, as a reminder of the times...
  • ... there's some handsanitiser handily placed just inside the door.
  • The layout looks very familar. However, there have been subtle changes. For example...
  • ... the double table by the door is now a single one, and the corner table is out of use.
  • I thought the use of plants (in particular, cacti) to denote out of use tables was very clever!
  • The view from the back of The Flower Cup. Most of the familiar furniture is still there...
  • ... including the six-person communal table in the centre of the room...
  • ... and the tall, six-person table in the back, right-hand corner.
  • These two seats were already socially distanced before COVID-19, so no change needed!
  • If you do need to move around, there's a one-way system, shown by arrows on the floor.
  • I've always loved this dresser/retail area, so was glad it was still there, as was the...
  • ... specials board, which I only saw after ordering, otherwise I may have had French Toast!
  • The decor is the usual mix of artwork and flowers...
  • ... or, in the case of this, a combination of the two.
  • Down to business, not that you have any excuse to visit the counter...
  • ... but I popped up to say hi. I also had a lovely flat white...
  • ... made by the very talented Laura, which went very well...
  • ... with my pancakes for lunch, which is where I'll leave you.
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The Flower Cup is upstairs in the Rows, towards the western end of Watergate Street. Set back from the street, the space at the front forms an elevated balcony above the street-level shop. During the winter, this housed some makeshift seating, with crates for tables and cushions to sit on. However, on my return, these had been replaced with two formal tables, making for an excellent outdoor seating option.

Alternatively, you can sit inside, where you’ll notice the first COVID-19 change, a polite sign by the door requesting that you wait to be seated and explaining the new systems in place. There are also clear markers outside, showing you where to queue if it’s busy. You’re greeted at the door by a member of staff (who is masked, along with all staff in contact with customers) and will be asked to sanitise your hands before being shown to a table.

If you want takeaway, rather than going up to the counter, the staff member will take your order while you wait outside. A short while later, your coffee is brought to you on a tray, along with the card reader for payment. Along with The Press Room, this is the best system I’ve seen for takeaway customers, keeping them separate from the sit-in customers.

There are more changes inside, although these have been very well done. The layout is essentially the same and, rather than take tables out, The Flower Cup has simply placed flowers on those that have been out of use to ensure correct distancing. A few of the double tables have been reduced to single ones (like the ones at the back and the pair immediately to the right of the door) but otherwise, it’s a simple, ingenious solution.

There’s a one-way system, clearly marked by arrows on the floor (in on the left, out on the right), but since there’s full table service, the only reason to go wandering is to visit the toilet at the back. The staff even bring you the bill and a card reader at the end of your visit, so you don’t need to go to the counter. They also take your contact details at this point. However, if my visit was representative, many regulars still wander up to pay before they remember!

I was there for lunch, and while tempted by my regular order, Eggs Florentine, the pancakes, which I’d noticed on the menu on my first visit, and which had been calling to me ever since, won the day. I was rewarded with a stack of three fluffy pancakes, lightly drizzled with maple syrup, with more in a generous-sized pot to the side, which progressively went over the pancakes as I worked my way through them. I paired my pancakes with an excellent flat white, made by Laura, which was lovely, rich and smooth, the coffee (a bespoke natural Brazilian from Neighbourhood Coffee) in perfect harmony with the milk.

Afterwards, I chatted with Milli and Laura who told me that The Flower Cup had reopened on the 4th July, the day the COVID-19 restrictions were eased in England. The main concession has been a reduction in opening hours to 10:00 to 16:00 each day, but other than that, the service remains broadly the same as before the pandemic. Pleasingly, the Flower Cup has been very busy since reopening and is participating in the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out during August. Although this is a welcome boost, they were delighted to report that The Flower Cup has been just as busy during the rest of the week as well!

61 WATERGATE STREET • CHESTER • CH1 2LE
http://flowercup.co.uk +44 (0) 1244 639 634
Monday 10:00 – 16:00 Roaster Neighbourhood Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 10:00 – 16:00 Seating Tables, Bar, Comfy Chairs
Wednesday 10:00 – 16:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 10:00 – 16:00 Service Table
Friday 10:00 – 16:00 Payment Cards Only
Saturday 10:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits Originals: 27th December 2019, 4th February 2020
Update: 7th August 2020

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