It truly has been a wonderful eight years, says Firepot cafe owner Michele Bishop, as she prepares to face new challenges.
Last Friday the Gordonton café officially changed hands, with senior staff member Emma Brown becoming the new owner.
“We’re just delighted it’s Emma who is buying it. She’s a really smart lady, she has been working here for two years while putting herself through university. She’s passionate about the industry and knows it,” says Michele.
When the café was first put on the market, Michele thought it would be nice to have a choice on her bought it, and as it turned out, she did.
“We had two offers on the table, and felt when one was Emma’s, that we would work with her to get it at any cost. It’s a great opportunity for her to get into business, and is great for the staff and the wider community.”
Operating the Firepot has been an amazing journey. “Who would have thought eight years ago when we set up this tiny little café it would turn out like this.”
They could seat 12 people, and in addition to Michele there was one and a half staff.
“A lot of people probably thought I wouldn’t be here long. I can remember signing the lease with our landlord, we only took one year because we didn’t know what was going to happen. Now we have a 12-year lease.”
There have been three extensions over that time, too. “Now we can comfortably seat 65 inside, and 20 outside. And there are 16 staff who are awesome, they’ve shared my vision and focus on quality. I was lucky enough to have a great team around me.”
She has seen Gordonton evolve along the way, as well. “I think there’s another 16 businesses that have come here; including the monthly market which is amazing. Gordonton is just a cool place to be, with fantastic people.”
Now she is looking at new challenges but intends staying in the hospitality industry.
“I felt I’d taken the Firepot to where I could take it to, I’d ticked all the boxes for goals and I want to create something else, move on to a something new.”
Michele’s last day is on Monday 10 November, and Emma takes over the next day.
“I’d like to thank the local community, without them we would have nothing. The support has been fantastic.”
She’s enjoyed putting on a number of events, with a fashion fundraiser for 14-year-old Georgia Phillips in September.
“Georgia is raising money to travel to Costa Rica and Nicaragua next year so we put on a fashion show here.”
It was a great night, and made unexpectedly special when they had a power cut, at the start of the event.
“It was total darkness. We got out the torches, put candles on the tables and we just carried on. It was quite nice, everyone stayed till the end.”
Which is what being part of the community is all about. Michele, who lives on Boyd Rd, says the Firepot will be her local.
“I’ll turn up for coffee. It’ll be funny paying for it, but I’ll be there.”
Thank you Michele, you have been an inspiration to many in Gordonton.
Click here for an earlier story on Michele.