People often ask me what it is like to own a cafe. I would not call myself an expert, neither a novice, but probably somewhere in between. It all began 30 years ago, yep shows i am no young bird anymore, but with aging experience:) I arrived in Australia, and my first job was an kitchen hand. I knew little English, so this was a job i could do. Little did i know that the people i worked for totally ripped me off, paying me $3.50 p/hr. I worked and scrubbed those pans often till well into the early morning hours. Needless to say, it was not something i did for a long time. But from those humbling beginnings, a passion grew. Over many years i worked as an waitress, and a barmaid, until i thought i was getting to old to be playing that game. I went to Uni, educated myself and became a nurse. I hated it but i felt it was more an respectable thing to do than pulling beers in a pub in my thirties. For those of you who are in this position, it is not mend as an insult, but purely my own feelings and opinion, not necessarily shared by others.
There was always that yearning in me, to return to hospitality, and for me the only thing i could do would have to be owning my own cafe, But HOW???? I had little money but loads of experience. I believe that if you have enough passion and belief in something, opportunities are created. It is just a matter of whether you see them. So an opportunity did come along. I was living in a small country town at the time, and as i no longer felt i could be a nurse, i set up a bead shop. Why??
Not sure, but it was a fun thing to do and the first time that i was working for myself. Yeah…..All those challenges i was not prepared for. All those responsibilities that i suddenly had to take on. But still… I loved it. As it was , my bead shop was next to a cafe, and after a year, the owner of the cafe wanted to sell.
There was the opportunity created. The cafe owner told me that the bead shop and cafe used to be one shop, but the door was plastered over, and therefor it were two separate entities. I became very excited with this knowledge and thought that having a cafe attached to my bead shop would be quite unique. So I borrowed the money and bought the cafe and named it “Beadilicious”.
After my initial excitement that I would finally own a cafe, reality set in of the responsibilities I also had taken on. My dear husband, Michael, went along with the idea, thinking he would have little involvement….. MMMM yeah right:))))
So our day of opening was here. I did not want to open the door, felt nauseated and scared about what I had undertaken. Michael opened the door and said we are open !!!! Not long after this my first costumer came through the door requesting a coffee. Micheal had never made coffee, and for me it had been some time and felt rather rusty. I smiled and said “Yes, no worries, it wont be a moment” What followed was chaos behind the espresso machine. Coffee everywhere, milk screeching and spilling over, and that was my first official cafe owner coffee I made… A memory that I will never forget. I am not surprised I never saw her back, as it must have been possible the worst coffee she had. I did not charge her.
But like anything one undertakes its swim or sink. Having a cafe in a country town brings its own challenges. Whilst I am grateful we were able to ease into the whole cafe thing, the intimacy of living in a country town can be stifling. I was amazed about the questions I was asked. “Was I making any money?” would have been my ‘favorite’
We have never been so tired in our lives and Michael often cursed me for “dragging’ him into it. We were there at 5 am, making our own muffins, breads, pies and scones, and would not leave till after 6 0r 7pm.
Yet I look back at this time with fond memories, it brought Michael and myself very close together, as we faced the many challenges. And we discovered we really liked working together.
After 2 years we sold the cafe and relocated back to Perth. My next story is about my second cafe.
It would be great to hear from others about their experiences:)