Hometown Cafe has been a safe haven for Lithgow residents for just over four years now, and the cafe continues to prove popular.
Coming out of lockdown, owner Jacques Seliscar was excited to be able to see Lithgow come alive again.
"We've had a steady flow of customers coming back to our cafe, so it's been nice to see them all again," he said.
But with one challenge comes another.
"We've had to reduce hours because we just don't have enough staff available, so that's become a problem," he said.
Jacques would love to see the cafe go back to having a night life, but at the moment it just isn't doable.
"We are begging people to work, begging," he laughed.
"It is a good place to work, we are like family in the shop and that is staff as well as customers.
"We consider everyone family, I've never had any problems with staff and even people that have moved on to University come back into town and want to pick up shifts or come in to chat.
"It is a really happy and comfortable place to work."
Jacques said the past four years has flown by.
"The community has been really supportive, we wouldn't have lasted the past four years if it wasn't for the local people," he said.
Jacques goal for his cafe is the same as what it was four years ago.
"Originally before I opened the shop my goal was to create a place where people feel comfortable, like a home away from home," he said.
This came about when Jacques would see single parents walking up and down Main Street with a stroller and they would say to him there was nowhere for them to sit down so they would normally stay home.
"So I wanted to make a space that could be inclusive for everyone, I thought this could be a place to rest and feel at home, they could feel part of a family," he said.
"Where I come from, you would see, two, three, four people always hanging out together at the beach for a swim, but in Lithgow I don't see that as much, and the mental health of residents can really struggle, so I thought this could be a place of rest.
"Of course income is important to keep us up and running, but it is more about the people."
Jacques said it was important to keep the community together and to provide them with good service to ensure they are happy the moment they come in.
"That is our purpose, it is to be here for people and to have people open up, have a good time and feel at home," he said.
Jacques told a story about a woman entering the cafe and when he asked how she was, she burst in to tears. The staff comforted her, made her feel relaxed and safe and put a smile back on her face. Being able to help his customers in any way, made Jacques feel accomplished.
"That's why we are called Hometown Cafe," he said.
"No matter your background, you're home here."
Despite the shortage, Jacques has nothing but kind words to say about his dedicated staff members.
"I am blessed to have the staff, I am so beyond grateful for them they really carry the business when I'm away," he said.
The staff ranging in age from 16 to 40 years-old all work together to give the best customer service around.
"We are human, so we make mistakes but the team has great communication and we talk to one another, because we want to improve," he said.
"The staff will get shown what to do next time and take responsibility for their actions, we all have the same goal and work towards that."
Even when co-workers disagree or have an argument, it is settled almost immediately.
"We don't sleep on it, we openly say 'you hurt my feelings' and then the other will apologise, then we can get back to laughing and joking, it is all about love and respect," he said.
Jacques said the store has started stocking local products in time for Christmas, including hats which a staff member designed, as well as pot plants, dolls, door mats and more.
When asked if there was a particular item on the menu that Jacques recommended customers try, he came up blank.
"Everything is good here," he laughed.
"But we do take on bad feedback, it is our best way at improving, we don't get offended, it just makes us step back and learn, we also offer a sincere apology," he said.
"Staff will have a meeting which is good for us and work out what we can do better, so don't be afraid to speak up, no one is perfect and people who have been in business 100 years still have thing to learn, so we are open for feedback."
Jacques wanted to give a big thank you to the community on behalf of the Hometown Cafe crew.
"Thank you for the support during this particularly hard time, we wouldn't be operating today without your support, so we are extremely appreciative," he said.
"Thank you for everything."
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