Customer hailed over 'beautiful' act for short-staffed café

The regular customer finished off her breakfast and returned with an apron before asking how she could help.

A customer's generous offer had struggling café owners in Queensland "overcome with emotion" as the team battled through a busy service rush.

After overhearing the workers at Miss Effie's Kitchen complain they were short-staffed, Janet finished off her brekky and dashed home before returning and offering assistance to the Noosaville café.

"She literally walked in an hour later with her apron in hand and said, 'Right, put me to work!'" cafe owner Fiona McDermott told Yahoo News Australia.

Left: Customer Janet smiling behind the dishwasher wearing an apron and holding a tea towel after hearing about the staff shortage. Right: Outside of the cafe, where 'Miss Effie's Kitchen' can be read on the sign as two customers sitting together at a table.
Customer Janet decided to roll up her sleeves and chip in after hearing about the cafe's staff shortage. Source: Supplied

She continued by sharing that both herself and business partner Effie were "floored" by the customer's kind offer. She was quickly put to work, preparing food and manning the dishwasher, with the owners "unbelievably grateful" when she returned a second day asking if she was needed again.

"It just says a lot about the community we're a part of," Fiona said, before sharing that it was difficult to put into words what it meant as a small business owner. "We're just humbled by her generosity of spirit."

Staff shortages continue to be a thorn in café's side

Since opening their business last July, Fiona and Effie have found it "incredibly hard" to keep staff long-term, relying on relatives to keep their café running.

"We were very lucky that my son was taking a gap year and was our full time barista, which was incredible" Fiona said. "And Effie's sister works with us three times a week."

Staff shortages continue to pain small businesses after the pandemic forced the vast majority of international workers to return to their home countries.

Despite overseas labour being on the rise post-pandemic, staff shortages are still prevalent throughout the hospitality industry. Increasing rental prices is another challenge for business owners, with reports that some venues are being forced to close their doors for good.

Despite their customer's kind offer only providing a band-aid solution to their pressing staff issue, Miss Effie's Kitchen owners went out of their way to show their appreciation for Janet.

They uploaded a picture to Facebook, with many calling the customer "beautiful", while another said, "This is what community is all about".

"Janet wasn't doing it for any particular accolade, and that's why it was so important for us to thank her so publicly, it was just an pure act of generosity," Fiona said. "It's nice that that still exists."

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