10 May 2023

Major blow for Cooktown as cafe is forced to close

| Sarah Martin
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Driftwood Cafe owner Kristina Davidson with Kelley Miller and Abbey Cook.

COOKTOWN’S Driftwood Cafe closed its doors permanently on Friday, a week after the building’s owner told the family business to cough up 60 per cent more rent.

Opened in 2018 by food-loving local mums Kristina Davidson and Jo Reuben, the cafe has served home cooking, coffee and curios with an international twist and has been a favourite of locals.

Ms Davidson and her husband Nick took over the ownership last year, however, never owned the premises and had been operating with a month-to-month lease.

“For a year now, our future has been hanging in the air and it was finally decided last Tuesday,” she said.

“We can’t afford to purchase the building or absorb a 60 per cent rent hike so we are forced to vacate.”

Devastatingly for the Davidsons, the business they built from the ground up can’t be sold.

“It’s quite amazing what we have built and now it feels like we’re just throwing it away; four and a half years of bloody hard work, sweat and tears saw us through road construction, lockdowns and COVID stipulations,” Ms Davidson said.

“We got our first TripAdvisor award for excellence last week, too, which was very bittersweet.

“But apparently operating Driftwood Cafe on the premises doesn’t make it an appealing investment opportunity.

“Apparently, the vacant property will attract investors willing to pay the asking price.”

Along with the Davidsons’ losing their business, two full-time employees and two casual juniors will also be out of a job.

Support has flooded in since the cafe announced its closure last week, with Jennifer Lanyon saying staff should be proud of their efforts.

“So very sorry it’s coming to an end; you can be damn proud of what you have created,” she said.

“As former cafe owners ourselves, we know what a hard slog it is.”

Lisa Miller said she was devastated.

“So sorry to hear Kristina and crew, your dedication, passion and beautiful food and coffee will be missed by all,” she said.

Ms Davidson said she didn’t know what was in store next, but the first thing on her list was taking some much-needed time off to spend with her family.

“We would like to thank you all for your ongoing support, for making Driftwood the success it is today,” she said.

“We have made many lifelong friends along the way and we will miss you all; luckily Cooktown is only small and we’ll see you in the IGA!”

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