Launceston's Robert and Rebekah Madden were at a cross roads – either remain in their limited occupations or go for it big time and drive themselves as young entrepreneur's and take up a local milk bar cafe.
We came across Rebekah last week when on our most recent Country Town Tour of Tasmania having met her parents Steve and Debbie Suba who were keen to show us first hand what such enthralling young people are about today.
So it was with anticipation my wife Delma and I were chauffeured to the said milk bar cafe in one of the main streets of Launceston – St John – look for the tall steeples from the major church and you're in the vicinity.
But this is no simple story. This is a story of hard work, huge endeavour, massive get-up-and-go – so if you're reading this thinking that you simply 'turn-up' either this is not the article for you or that it will enliven you to ponder the lessons.
Robert's first job after he and Rebekah married in 2005 he was working in a meat factory as one of the boys. But as sure as night follows day, those sorts of jobs are not your career expanding challenges, so he was looking for something.
Rebekah was running (the team leader) in the Launceston City Mission cafe and had been there for some years. Her story was that she worked in this position for some years and then they went to Romania for a stint in English teaching. This sometimes involved travelling to a local orphanage and helping out.
On their return Rebekah went back to the Launceston City Mission in her role but was feeling dry and needed someone additional to challenge her after her Romanian experience.
Her sister Kate and cousin Beck and friends regularly go cafe hopping (as it were) and came across this cafe with a craft element to it (in a room at the back where craft meetings were regularly held).
Around the same time Robert and Rebekah noticed it was for sale when scouring the newspaper. They then visited it and noticed the fresh produce which they thought very appropriate for the Launceston area and contacted the appropriate people and through those discussions came to an agreement.
They became the owners in January 2014 with their emphasis being on the cafe with the craft running as a secondary feature of the business.
Developing the new opportunity
As there was no need to alter the menus or the decore, they put their heart and soul into what is known in the trade as 'elbow grease' and started work each morning at 7.00am preparations – making up all fresh rolls, the salad and soup if applicable for the season. In this hour they took deliveries of milk, meats, vegetables and the like.
8.00am they open with a 4.30pm closure time after a full day on the job. Monday to Friday as it is a CBD business.
Early mornings coffee is the big ticket item with an occasional ham and cheese croissant – there is no range exhaust – rather toastie items such as Turkish bread and quiches, slices and the like.
Over this past 18 months the business has developed with a steady flow of regulars and newies, with local suppliers providing the whatever. And moreover a growing number of people interested in craft supplies.
Rebekah has been noted in a popular travel guide and Asian tourists have been picking this up and visiting the milk bar cafe.
The training at the Launceston City Mission she received over many years in areas such as ordering and managing proved very helpful.
Her mum comes in and helps along with other family members to make this new wheel chug along nicely. It has been and continues to be one of those exciting adventures where a young Christian couple are at a loss with what has been on offer and changed direction to something needing some effort and entrepreneur along with prayer and commitment.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html