CAFE bosses who launched their first shop just before the pandemic struck have announced plans to set up a second venue.

A new Toast will be opening in Chelmsford in the coming months following the brand’s successful launch in Braintree town centre.

The shop, on High Street, opened in February 2020 - four weeks before the UK went into the first lockdown due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

And despite further Covid restrictions hampering business, bosses are set to take a leap of faith and open another cafe.

Co-owner Rob Ely, who also owns the Chophouse restaurant in Braintree, said: “It’s been a weird year really and certainly not the one anyone was expecting.

“We had a really good start when we opened but always knew that was the honeymoon period so it was hard to tell if it was going to work.

“We’ve managed to establish a base of regulars which has helped, particularly after lockdowns.

“But we have also managed to keep adapting and tweaking things.

“I think people like the fact we are quite personable and have that quirky element that makes us stand out from the chains like Costa.”

The new Toast cafe is due to open in late February, depending on Covid restrictions - in Moulsham Street in a building which was formerly occupied by Thomas Cook.

Mr Ely says he and his fellow bosses are eyeing up other potential sites in East Anglia for other Toast cafes as they bid to create a local chain to rival international firms.

He added: “It was always our intention to open a few more.

“In some ways the pandemic has helped us because there has been more of a focus to help independent businesses like us.

“We’ve got a nice little spot in Chelmsford which is just about the right size for what we want to do.

“It’ll be very similar to the shop in Braintree.

“Everything is a work in progress and we’re always changing things, but we’re hoping it will work well like the shop in Braintree has.”

Toast offers a range of hot and cold drinks, along with toast and 50 different spreads, and toasties.