Cafe life, over but not forgotten

by Jillian Tong

When I first took over The Cafe 13 years ago, I was inexperienced and naive, so had to learn on the job. There were a few tears and sleepless nights worrying about how I would manage. It has become easier the last few years because of the long-suffering stalwarts it has been my privilege to work alongside. Knowing they would be there if needed even when woken at 6am is beyond measure. Thank you.
Even the customers have pitched in to clear tables, wash dishes and deliver orders when we’ve been overwhelmed – actually, I’m not sure that’s allowed, especially if they are wearing jandals or gumboots, but thank you very much. Your generosity and caring are appreciated. The same applies to some who “are not coming back”, coming back for a short time again and again. Thank you for being there when we needed you.
We have been the recipient of gifts of lemons for Lemon Slice, Lemon Sour Cream Cake, and that amazing Lemon Tart. Then there is the parsley lady who kept up our supply, and a keen gardener bringing excess produce to be turned into something delicious. Other gifts of produce came in, and boxes of chocolates and bottles of alcohol went down a treat too. Thank you for sharing the love.
Many young people have done a stint at The Café and earned a bit of money while gaining some skills, a work history, and reference to help them on their journey. There have been proud young mums and dads bringing in a newborn for us to coo over, that child growing up, going to school, college even. I’m pretty sure there are teenagers who have been regulars all their lives. Rain, hail, or shine,Sunday would bring out the hardy bikers who have been regulars for at least 20 years. Not always the same ones but always some, every Sunday, including one still riding who had his 90th birthday there. That’s pretty special.
I am proud that The Café is a meeting place, pick up and drop off point, counselling service, lost property office, fund raiser, charity supporter, information centre (the other one), news service, flower seller (on behalf of Love Flowers), actual destination, and many other things besides. I don’t hesitate to credit all that to the big-hearted girls who work there.
It has been hard work, with long hours and unbelievably challenging at times. There have been tears and laughter, dramas, medical events, police incidents and accidents, which have all become part of an experience shared with the warm hearted, community minded, encouraging, and supportive people of Helensville.
Thanks to landlords Jae and Nima, also Kara Singer from Arizto, I can now hang up my apron, take it a bit easier and be on the other side of the counter for a change.
There are many regulars I would like to say goodbye and thank you to. I hope you know who you are. You’re the ones who would have to come to a party if we could have had one.
I offer my best wishes to the new owner and would like you to know you will see familiar faces who remember your coffee order when they reopen.

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