5 minutes with Emily – Nancy’s of the Valley

Local business owners are such a big part of the community so we thought we do a series of quick fire Q&A’s with some of them while they are at work. Today we popped into have a quick chat with Emily who owns Nancy’s of the Valley in Yarra Junction. Hope you enjoy reading a little about Emily.

How long have you owned Nancy’s of the Valley?

I bought the business off the previous owner Amanda in May 2014.

What do you love most about the Valley?

I really love the scenery first and foremost and I really enjoy the food bowl that the Yarra Valley has to offer. That’s what drew me to the Valley in the first place. I also like how many people in this community care about what they put in their bodies. For that reason they make consciously choices about what they purchase and what food they provide for themselves and their families. I think that is very important.

How did you come to run your own cafe?

My Aunt lives in Hoddles Creek and she would come to this cafe on a semi occasionally basis when Amanda owned it. One day someone drew it to her attention that there was a small add on the back of a newspaper advertising that Amanda’s Cafe was for sale.

My aunt knew I had been I had been looking for a cafe for a long time. She knew I had been mucked around a few times while trying to purchase a couple other cafes. She phoned me when she saw the add and said to me “if you don’t come and buy this cafe your an idoit”. I phoned Sam from Bell Real Estate straight away and inquired about the cafe. Sam told me that someone had already signed the contract and it was gone.

But to my surprise she phoned me up about a week later and told me that the contract had fallen through and Amanda’s Cafe was still for sale. I arranged with Sam to have a look at the cafe. I meet the owner Amanda and she was lovely. I must admit I didn’t really have a good look around but I liked it. We left the cafe and I was crossing the street when my other half said “yep, it’s got you written all over it”. I agreed and said ” it feels right”. He said “Just do it”.

I called Sam straight away and told her I wanted to buy the business and about a month or so later I did the change over with Amanda. Amanda and I had a really nice relationship throughout the entire change over and we still do now. She moved away from the area but her kids stayed behind to finish their schooling. Every now and again her youngest child comes in to the cafe. It very much felt like it was a changing over of the custodian with Amanda, so it was a very easy change over.

How did you come up with the name Nancy’s of the Valley?

We changed the name to Nancy’s of the Valley on December the 1st 2014. I named the cafe after my Gran who was called Nancy. I wanted it to be just Nancy’s but someone had already taken that name.

My Gran Nancy started my interest in food and cooking so it was fitting that I should name my cafe after her. She taught me how to make white sauce, gravy, pancakes and how to make cookies. My Aunty Jan who told me to buy the cafe is pretty chuffed that I named the cafe after her mum and that she was the one that found the ad to buy the business from Amanda.

Do you know any history about this shop?

Amanda owned the cafe for almost 10 years before I bought it from her so it has been a cafe for the past 16 years. I also know from photos that I have seen online that it was a Milkbar years and years ago. I even had a gentlemen come in one day and confirm that. He told me that he lived in this shop when he was young. His family ran a Milkbar at the front of the shop and they lived out the back.

I also know that this building was part of the corner shop when the road was just gravel. The rail crossing used to cross at the intersection just outside the cafe so that’s how it got named Yarra Junction. I believe this building was also a residence at some stage too.

What do you love most about running your own business?

I like pleasing people. I like to get nice feedback at the end of the day. It’s important to me that everyone is comfortable, happy, healthy and that we have done a nice thing for them.

What is the hardest thing about running your own business?

Definitely the hardest thing I find about running my own business is doing all the administration that is required behind the scenes. It takes me three hours on my day off to catch up with all my paperwork for the week.

What are some of the things that are most important to you in regards to running your business?

I am very aware of the environmental footprint a business like mine can have on the environment. For that reason I consciously choose environmentally friendly cleaning products to use in the kitchen. I also am careful about the amount of energy we use and of course the packaging we use.

Packaging has been a big one this year due to COVID. We have had to use a lot of packaging for take away meals this year so I make sure all our packaging is bio-degradable, recyclable and that it doesn’t cause any harm to the environment in anyway.

One of the other things I am very passionate about is that every single item I purchase for the cafe must not contain palm oil. I have been preaching for about 12 years about palm oil and the devastation harvesting the oil does to the forest and the animals that live there.

You have to be careful when you are searching for palm oil in food and other items as it is often just listed in the ingredients as vegetable oil. Unfortunately in Australia our government has not passed legislation to stop manufacturers from just labeling it as vegetable oil. If you are interested in the numbers that manufactures list palm oil they are 472A, E472A, 472E and E472E.

What is the best piece of advice you would give someone who is thinking of starting a business or who is running their own business already?

Try and make sure that you take some time out to have a break away from your business. You need some R & R and you need to try and implement that early on when you start running your own business. You may not listen to my advice but I learnt the hard way. I ended up so tired and realised I needed to fill up my own cup on a regular basis so that I was effective when I was at work. If you get too tired, you are no good to anyone. My friends told I needed to make time to socialise and enjoy myself too and they were right.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to chill out on the couch with my dog. I like to go for walks with my dog. I also put catching up with my immediate family as my priority. I always make time for my Mum, Dad, brother and sister.

What is your favourite food?

Cheese. I have to just choose one cheese it would have be Night Walker by Stone and Crow.

What is your favourite drink?

A glass of Gembrook Hill Sauvignon Blanc and then directly after a double shot latte.

What is your best piece of advice?

Live and let live and try to do no harm to people.

Thank you Emily for giving us 5 minutes of your time and sharing a little bit about you and you business Nancy’s of the Valley. It was lovely chatting to you.

About Noelene Davidson

Hi, I'm Noelene, I've spent the last decade or so dedicated to raising 3 beautiful children, and now they are getting a little older I'm enjoying writing about the wonderful people and places of the Yarra Valley where we live.

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