6 November 2022

Eden cafe overcomes challenges from opening in pandemic and is welcomed by community

| Albert McKnight
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Violet Dellas, Eliza Marks, Jo Schmidt and Imogen Osten are some of the friendly faces at Florabel, Eden. Photo: Supplied.

Despite the challenges that came from setting up shop during the COVID-19 pandemic, a burgeoning cafe in Eden has been welcomed by the community and attracted a loyal team, while also helping the region’s younger community members to develop their skills.

Dealing with issues like lockdowns resulted in a tricky period for Florabel while it was just getting started, but on the brighter side it did give the team the chance to work well behind the scenes.

Then as soon as the doors opened, customers were back and the cafe on Imlay Street became very busy in the leadup to summer 2022.

The Far South Coast’s hospitality sector has been in somewhat of a crisis over the past couple of years with many businesses finding it difficult to recruit skilled workers.

But Florabel has managed to weather the storm and has handpicked its staff from people who want to be involved in its business.

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Cafe supervisor Jo Schmidt has worked there for about one year, since it reopened after the lockdowns, and said it was a great environment for young people to learn in.

“It’s awesome watching them build their confidence and social skills – life skills really,” the 27-year veteran of the hospitality industry said.

“Lots of juniors grow from here and can further their careers, it’s such a stepping stone for their future.”

Eliza Marks, 17, has worked at Florabel since the cafe opened its doors in 2021, in what is her first job.

She said she had learned a lot, as a cafe all-rounder and becoming a superstar barista, and found the social aspect of the work to be enjoyable.

Aside from the experience she has gained in hospitality, Eliza said she had also gained a lot of other important skills through her role.

“I was very socially anxious before I worked here, talking to people through my work has definitely helped me build my confidence,” she said.

Florabel was recently recognised by Workplace Learning for excellence in workplace training in recognition of its contribution to young people making decisions about their future.

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Last year, it was also chosen as a finalist for the Outstanding Start-up Business category in the NSW Business Awards.

Manager Rose Devlin said high retention of cafe staff had given the business more stability through testing times.

“Our senior staff mentor and support the juniors which creates an atmosphere where they grow and develop skills for life, while having fun along the way,” she said.

Florabel is working hard to complete its terrace at the rear of the building, an increased capacity space for wine and tapas, live music and high tea events, due to open in December.

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