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Hidden Gems Coffee

Tugun, Queensland, Australia

At the tender age of 9 years old, Gemma used to help serve and clear tables at her parents' bakery and patisserie and she LOVED IT!!


Gemma enjoys meeting people, talking and making friends and she loves to watch the generations grow up. It holds a special place in her heart when the children who used to come along with their parents, visit in their school uniforms before their first day at school and come by to share big events with her.


Gemma opened Hidden Gems only 8 years ago as a single shop space cafe and has since grown across three shop spaces and wants to grow even further into a second location. 



How do you separate your personal life from your life at Hidden Gems?

I’m extremely lucky to have a very supportive husband who also runs his own business. So, to have that understanding with each other that to own the business is a choice, we choose to work and put this much work into them.


I certainly don’t think we have it perfect but it's perfect for us. We are a great team, and we like to be busy, so having successful businesses is more important to us than sitting on the couch each day. I think we “work” a lot more than most people, but we are very goal driven people. I guess it can be said we enjoy working. Maybe we can retire young and fish a lot more soon 😂

What’s your favourite ‘me time’ thing to do?

We swim laps every second day. We make the time to go together and normally get a feed after. It gives us time when no one can call or interrupt us. It's good exercise but also good to sometimes just concentrate on breathing and swimming form and let go of work for an hour or two each couple of days.

What nice surprises have you found in running Hidden Gems?

The People. I love owning a Café. It’s extremely hard work, long hours and you can never just say I don’t feel well so I might get up late or relax for a few extra hours. You can’t just close because you’re getting a migraine. There is no option to call in sick. So, I guess for me, to continue daily no matter the pressure or problem, it’s the people and relationships that make me want to continue.


There are so many amazing people out there who are dealt some pretty s**t deals. They are, day after day, dealing with bad luck! Sick child, no sleep, cancer, someone they love passing away and they just need a great cup of coffee and a chat. They just need to talk about that bad day. I don’t expect to fix it, but I do expect to be there for them when they just want someone to whinge about life with.


That even includes staff too. I’ve met some wonderful staff along the way. I honestly won’t see or hear from some of them again but for that time they spent every day with me for months or years it always comes down to the people for me.

What not-so-nice surprises?

Tax, BAS, Insurance, Workcover, Licensing, Outdoor Dining costs. The hidden things and costs of business you don’t really hear a lot about. I guess they aren’t a surprise as I saw my parents do it all but it’s the ‘not so nice’ part of business 😂

Do you have any advice for someone contemplating opening or buying a café?

Don't listen to all the negative talk about owning a small business or Café. It’s hard. But there are lots of hard jobs out there.


You get to choose the people you surround yourself with, you get to choose your products, and you can choose how much fun you have doing it all. Turn up the music and get on with it, always serve the best coffee around, make great food and you’ll bring the following.


The biggest advice would be always make small and large goals. For the tough times go back to your small goals. Literally, mine turn into ‘just make it to work today’. Once you’re there, make a few more goals. As long as you keep ticking them off you will make it through your day.


When times are good there is no better feeling than having 20 staff on a weekend shift with the music going, everyone loving their coffee and food, the staff are all having a blast and the pressure is on, the chefs are pumping the food out and you step back and realise all these people are here because you decided to make this room into somewhere they can all come to eat and drink. I honestly can’t give any better advise than take in those fun moments. Its such a buzz, having people lined up out the door.


Why would you not want to own a Café?!! hahaha

What personal touches did you put into Hidden Gems that make it unique?

Besides the best coffee on the Coast? 😉


The best service; my staff all WANT to be there. I say to them often, “there are plenty of venues, there are plenty of staff, if you don’t want to be here let me know and I’ll find someone else”. It might sound harsh, but we all hate going to a business where we can feel the staff hate what they are doing. It’s best for my staff too. I want them to be nice to each other and the customers, and I want them to enjoy their days and be proud of what they do and the person they are. They choose to come to this job and I’m very lucky to have them. I can’t run a business without them. It makes it a very fun atmosphere and you always feel welcome.

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