Continental Bakery homade sweets and treats fresh baked artisanal breads european style bakery & coffee shop

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As the owner of Continental Bakery & Chez Lulu, I want to personally thank you all for your support through the years, and especially during these last few difficult weeks. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of your lives, whether through providing you fresh-baked breads and pastries, welcoming you for coffee and a treat with a friend, or inviting you for an evening of relaxing conversation over dinner, drinks and dessert on our sidewalk. This has been a challenging time for us, trying to balance our responsibilities to our customers and to the health (both economic and physical) of our community and employees, many who have been with us for years.
Everything we produce at either of our businesses is made with our hands, made with love and made from scratch. It's how we make our products and it's how we do business. I like to think we're scrappers, that we care, we're tough, and we get amazing things done. As an essential business, we've been focused on finding ways to keep going, in service to our employees and the community, as well as to the business we have nurtured over the years. I am eternally grateful to my talented team for the job we've managed to do so far, reinventing our business on an almost daily basis.
But something occurred to me while driving home from a meeting with our management team a couple of days ago. As I came to an intersection I travel almost every day, I stopped at the light and watched the bustle of activity, cars everywhere, people going about their daily routines. I was reminded of videos I've seen recently of the streets of New York, Boston, Chicago, Barcelona. The streets in those cities were empty, while the familiar intersection where I sat looked no different from any other day. The contrast was stark, and the implication even more so.
Some have suggested that we are in control of our own destiny in this crisis. If so, then I am concerned that we are not doing enough. And while COVID-19 threatens me personally, as an older person, it also urgently threatens many people I love dearly: my parents, my older customers, my vulnerable employees and my friends who work in the medical profession. I know you also have loved ones for whom you are concerned. (My prayer is that these personal connections will serve to expand our compassion for every vulnerable person in our state and beyond!) We don't know anything for certain, but we are operating with many mixed and often conflicting messages from governmental leaders and health professionals, and so we are left to make these decisions for ourselves the best we can.
From what we are beginning to see in New York, it appears that social distancing and staying home can, indeed, flatten the curve. What they are doing appears to be working, and that means there is likely more we can do to avoid catastrophe. So, given the projected peak of Alabama COVID-19 cases on April 20th, I have decided that it's time for me and the Chez Lulu and Continental Bakery staffs to stay home. This decision goes against many of my instincts as a business person, but I am responsible for more than just the survival of my business. I believe these times call for a different and more spiritual kind of toughness, guided by compassion and love for our neighbors.
And so we invite you to join us in staying home while the worst of this crisis passes. Let's give our healthcare workers their best chance of success as they manage the most dire effects of this pandemic. Let’s pray we've done enough, quickly enough. And let’s hope that in a month, our actions look like an over-reaction. If outcomes are better than expected, we will take comfort in knowing that we may have played some small part in saving even one single, precious life.
So, effective Saturday 4/11, Chez Lulu will close for business. Continental Bakery will remain open through Wednesday 4/15, so that we can fulfill Easter orders and wind down our business.
We will continue to produce bread, as well as a limited quantity of other products until that time. Please call us at 205-870-5584 if you need anything special from us before we close, in preparation for your own home stay, and we will do our best to honor special requests. Right now, our plan is to re-open in two or three weeks, circumstances permitting. We will likely return in a somewhat more limited capacity at first, focusing exclusively on curbside service and deliveries, eliminating the need for any physical contact. We'll keep you posted. We appreciate your patience and enduring support, as we continue to prioritize the safety of our customers, community and employees.
We look forward to seeing you again soon at Chez Lulu and Continental Bakery. Perhaps in a few months, we can even grab a seat on the sidewalk, lift a glass of wine (or a cup of coffee), and share stories of the quarantine. In the meantime, let's stay home. By that action, we'll all continue to show how scrappy we are, how much we care. Let's help to slow the spread of this virus and save lives.

Take care,
Carole and Shea

P.S. A few of us at the bakery will be doing a very limited service while we're closed these next couple of weeks, delivering bread to those desperate for basic provisions and to those in the medical profession. Please don't hesitate to call while we're closed, if you or someone you know is in need.