After almost 16 years of running, managing and owning the Cottage Kitchen Bakery, Jennifer and Dean Archer have sold their last Christmas Pudding, after handing over the keys to their popular bakery to fellow Circular Head locals, Popeye and Jenna Hursey.
“We have another business in town, so we are looking to slow down a bit,” Mrs Archer said, referring to Smithton Betta Home Living.
Walking into something completely new in 2007, the Archer’s embraced the challenge with open arms and have successfully provided the community with their fix of sweets, savouries and bread for well over a decade.
“It’s been very successful,” Mrs Archer continued.
“The bakery itself doesn’t stop. The doors open at 3am with the first baker starting at 7.30pm the previous night. The next person comes in at 9.30pm, the next at 3am and then 5am, and then from there onwards until 5.30pm when we shut the doors.”
Basically a 24-hour business, the Archer’s have been able to slowly limit their own early starts thanks to the 18 local staff that they proudly employ. Learning from scratch, the bakery has been a family affair for the Archers, with daughters Frances and Hatti both donning the apron over the years before making the transition to the family’s newer business, Smithton Betta Home Living.
They have shared the good times and the bad over the journey with Jennifer fondly recalling the time she accidentally copped a face full of blue food colouring, temporarily turning herself into a ‘Smurf’.
They will now turn their attention to their other business, as well as spending more time with family.
“When the girls are sorted (at the other shop), we will probably do some holidaying and spend more time with our three grandchildren,” she said.
“We want to thank our loyal customers over the last 15 years, 8 months and 3 days, not that we’re counting.”
Incoming owners, Jenna and Popeye, are equally as excited about their new venture, and like the Archers did almost 16 years prior, are taking on the bakery with no prior experience.
“We obviously spoke to Dean and Jennifer about it and they did the exact same thing all those years ago and they’ve never regretted it,” Mr Hursey said.
“Jenna and I have always been looking for something locally and we were talking to Duncan Spinks one day and one thing lead to another and pretty well we thought we could see ourselves doing that.”
A former Fuel Tank Driver and Beautician respectively, the Hursey’s have had some solid support from the community and have managed to maintain the bakery’s current staff to assist in making the transition as smooth as possible.
“We made sure the staff were keen to stay because they’re basically the backbone of it. They’ve been there and they know the product,” he continued.
Hursey’s former employer Andrew Arnold has been another big influence in the young family’s decision to take the plunge.
“He’s kind of been our major mentor through it all and even though I worked for him, we’ve got a really good friendship and he’s really pushed us. He’s all about community and he just wants to see young people involved.
“And to Dean and Jennifer themselves, they’ve been brilliant. They’ve just been so helpful. They really want to see us succeed and we’re definitely keen to give it a red-hot crack.”
Mrs Archer had one final piece of advice for the fresh owners, “Work hard and you will reap the rewards,” she said.