15 February, 2023

Café with heart at risk of closure

WITH the rising cost of living and less patrons coming through the door, Lisa Lyons of Lisa’s Willow Tree Café in Morayfield is just months away from having to turn the coffee machines off for good.

Lisa with one of three staff members Jaeden who has been working at the Café since 2019.
Lisa with one of three staff members Jaeden who has been working at the Café since 2019.

But this will impact more than just coffee lovers. 

Since opening her café in May of 2017, Lisa has taken to hosting a number of fundraiser events for local charities including Caboolture Community Action, Days for Girls, Breast Cancer and Leukemia Support Group, just to name a few.

She supports a number of local small businesses, providing free space for them to sell their products in her store.

Lisa’s Willow Tree Café also works with Better Together to provide hospitality training to more than 60 students with disability or mental health issues yearly. 

To say the least, Lisa’s Willow Tree Café is more than just a café, with locals describing it as a “community hub, a safe place for those with anxiety and disabilities” and a “unique welcoming space”. 

Café regular Joanne Hasted said that Lisa’s Willow Tree Café offers the charm and character of old-fashioned service, where staff remember your name and regular order. 

“You may come in feeling down or maybe you’re along and new to the area,” she said. 

“You are guaranteed to leave feeling uplifted with new friends having discussed the issues of the world around the large tables over a cuppa and delicious treat.” 

Supporting the community is paramount to Lisa, so much so she has gone without a wage for the last five and a half years just so she can stay open. 

“I’ve not taken one cent, not one. But, it’s not about money for me,” she said. 

“I’m lucky I’ve got a husband who has got a good job that can worry about our home stuff. And me, I’m all about the community.”

Lisa said that since COVID, hospitality has struggled to bounce back. 

“Small business meetings became too big and they couldn’t sit in here all together. We weren’t allowed to share plates so we couldn’t do our high teas. Couldn’t do our trivia. We couldn’t do any fundraising like we usually do. 

“So that bit was hard enough, and then it became ‘oh you can’t come in if you’re not vaccinated’, so again we were dictated to how we could do things.” 

Lisa said that to add salt to the wound, the Golden Circle Factory Outlet, which was a big draw card to the Heritage Plaza Shopping Centre on Morayfield Road, then moved to a different location leaving them with no walk-in traffic. 

“We’re not in an area where people come past every day, so we’re a destination. 

“Even though we have a good cliental, it’s not enough to sustain in what’s happened.”

Lisa said that not only is her rent now up for lease, but wages have gone up, super has gone up, insurance has gone up, food has gone up…

“Obviously, it’s embarrassing for me because people think straight away that I’m a poor business person, but it’s got nothing to do with that at all. It’s just circumstance. 

“We were doing fabulous. I didn’t take a wage because I always wanted the money in the bank in case something happened, which I’m glad now I did.” 

Lisa said that many people have made comments about the grants that were available to small businesses during the COVID lockdown, questioning her as to why she did not apply.

However, at the time Lisa was not applicable for any of the grants on offer. 

“You had to be down a certain percentage. I was honest and just a couple of percent off so I didn’t apply. 

“In hindsight, if I was the wrong sort of person, we wouldn’t be in this situation. But I like to do the right thing.”

If Lisa’s Willow Tree Café closes down, the 60 to 70 students currently completing their traineeship will not be able to finish their course, the charity events hosted by Lisa at the Café will stop, and locals will no longer have their “community hub” to meet. 

“We really need people to donate, whether it’s a dollar or fifty cents,” Lisa said. 

“We’ve got 3,000 followers on Facebook, so even if everyone gave $5, that’s half the money paid.

“I enjoy coming to work and seeing everybody. I just want to see everyone being happy and smiling and having fun. 

“Now I hope the community will help us stay open.” 

People can support Lisa’s Willow Tree Café by enjoying some of her delicious food and drinks, donating cash in store or via a GoFundMe page which was organised by Joanne Hasted (


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