CAFE owner Hayley Kirkman is counting the hours until she can turn the sign on her door to open again.

The 51-year-old usually works seven days a week and has been running Mo’s Cafe, in Tiptree, since 1982.

Lockdown restrictions meant she was forced to close her doors in March.

However, Mrs Kirkman is reopening for business tomorrow and admits the big moment cannot come soon enough.

She said: “It’s been awful and hit me hard.

“I never have a day off and am here every day, including Sundays when I’m getting ready for a Monday morning.

“I normally arrive at 4am and leave at 3pm, six days a week.

“To go from that to nothing has been a complete shock to the system, even though my body clock has still been waking me up at 3am! It’s not just a job. It’s my life. And the people that come into my cafe aren’t just customers. They’re friends.”

Mrs Kirkman’s mum, Mo, first opened the cafe but passed away nine years ago this October.


  • Reopening for business - cafe owner Hayley Kirkman

Since then it has become a way of life with generations of loyal customers visiting the popular premises, in The Centre.

“Whenever I go shopping people stop and ask me when we’re reopening,” added Mrs Kirkman, who lives in Tiptree.

“It’s lovely that the cafe is so popular.

“We’re onto the fourth generation of customers, in terms of those that have been coming here since 1982.

“If I had a penny for every cup of tea I’ve made down the years, I’d be a very rich lady!

“We don’t pretend to be anything we’re not.

“We’re a workman’s cafe, not a tearoom or restaurant, and proud of it. We’re good at what we do.”

Mrs Kirkman is raring to get going again on Monday.

“When we went into lockdown, I still had lots of food leftover so bagged up breakfasts for everyone in my road to cook at home,” she said.

“Everything was still in date and I didn’t want it to go to waste.

“But we can’t sit at home for ever and I can’t wait to reopen for business.

“We will have to change our seating arrangement.

“We can’t have condiments on tables and there will be a sanitation station, but it’ll just be great to be open again.”