Alan and Priscilla Nelson in happier times, when the cafe went from being BB's to a Michel's Patisserie.
Alan and Priscilla Nelson in happier times, when the cafe went from being BB's to a Michel's Patisserie. Greg Miller

Former manager says Michel's spot now 'dark and sad'

IT'S BEEN almost a week since Priscilla and Alan Nelson's world was turned upside down when they and their staff were unceremoniously dismissed by Michel's Patisserie and the Gympie store closed underneath them.

The couple received notification last Sunday they should have all the staff come into work Monday morning for a 10am meeting.

"There definitely wasn't any warning. And it wasn't our fault," Mrs Nelson said.

"They delivered a letter of termination from Head office to all of us," she said.

A Retail Food Group spokeswoman (of which Michel's Patisserie belongs) said the decision to shut down the store was made as a result of a "whole of business review" conducted in conjunction with international accounting organisation Deloitte.

"The review identified between 160 to 200 domestic outlets which are unsustainable on a long-term basis and will cease trading before the end of June 2019," the spokeswoman said.

CLOSED: Michel's Patisserie Gympie Central shut its doors Monday after being identified as
CLOSED: Michel's Patisserie Gympie Central shut its doors Monday after being identified as "unsustainable". Josh Preston

Both the Nelson's and their daughter lost their jobs as a result of the closure, as did another 10 staff members.

"It's been a very emotional week. We've got three people from the same family out of work. And then there's our staff too," she said.

She described the corner of the shopping centre now as "dark and sad" but said despite her anger and disappointment, the store still harbours plenty of good memories for her.

"It was great to see loyal customers who had become friends almost every day and have a chat with them and see everybody. And there were plenty of laughs with the staff. We were more like a family. We all got along. It was sad to have to say goodbye to them all last week," she said.

The couple had been managing the coffee shop from before it became a Michel's, all up for almost four and a half years.

"It's like the end of an era, but we can't dwell on it and have to move forward," she said.

One thing Mrs Nelson really wanted to convey was her gratitude to her loyal customers and the Gympie community as a whole.

"I really wanted to say thank you to all the community for their messages of support and to our many customers who would come in almost every day."

She said since The Gympie Times story about the shock closure of the store on Wednesday, she had been overwhelmed by the amount of support and kind words people had sent her to express their disappointment in the situation.

She said at one point she had to turn her phone off because "it kept going bing all the time".

The family have had the past week to reflect on the situation and are almost ready to start hunting in earnest for new jobs.

Alan's background is in trade's retail and Priscilla would be happy with anything in hospitality, but she admits it will be hard to find somewhere that had the same sense of family.

"We worked really hard to make it feel that way. We treated it like it was our own coffee shop and we took pride in our work," she said.

Gympie Times

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