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WATCH: 'We will miss you all' - Tain cafe set to go out on a high after 14 years

By Niall Harkiss

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A popular high street cafe in Tain is set to close its doors after a "lovely" and successful 14 years.

Debbie and John Dyer opened Sunflowers Cafe in 2009 after moving to the area from Edinburgh, and have become a popular fixture on Tain's high street.

Known for its striking yellow decor and "happy" sunflower theme, the daytime cafe is a popular choice with locals, serving teas, coffee, baked goods, breakfasts and lunches.

John lists among its highlights, the job of keeping the cast and crew of the Beechgrove Garden fed and watered, when the popular television programme visited Tain to assist with the revamp of the nearby Rose Gardens.

The couple's decision to close the cafe on June 16 this year has come about after John accepted a position with a catering firm in Dornoch. The closure will bring to an end a spell of 14 years of serving the community.

The cafe came through the pandemic in good shape, but John feels that the type of customer they would call their "regulars" has changed.

He explains: "Surviving the pandemic was a struggle and a hard situation to get through. Due to the distancing rules, we went from eight tables down to four, from 40 covers down to 20, and we basically had to double our custom to keep going.

"We now have a lot less families coming in, and much more of the older generation coming in to have their meal for the day and to have a chat, basically so that they don't have to cook, or turn on the electricity in the house."

The cafe has been a popular hotspot with regulars of an older generation.
The cafe has been a popular hotspot with regulars of an older generation.

Although the cafe is busy, the couple have decided that now is the right time to call it a day.

Debbie said: "It wasn't an easy decision. I am going to be upset when we shut it for the last time, but life goes on.

"We are busier than last year, but things are costing twice as much. We want to go out on a high, and we feel that now is the time to try something different.

"We have so many regulars. We do get people who come in every day, and they'll come in for a cup of tea, or sausage and chips, especially older people, just for a bit of company I think.

"They are who have kept us going. We will miss them. Hopefully someone will take this over and do what we are doing, as it does work."

A notice on the window of the cafe reads: "We want to thank our customers, especially our regular, who have made Sunflowers such a success over the past 14 years. It has been a privilege to serve you and get to know you all. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We are really going to miss everyone. John & Debbie."

John, who has worked in a number of chefing roles over the years, will now take on a new role with Highland Larder, who serve locally sourced food and drink situated by nearby Dornoch beach.

A notice announcing the cafe's closure has been displayed on its window.
A notice announcing the cafe's closure has been displayed on its window.

When asked what the legacy of Sunflowers Cafe would be, Debbie added: "Happy, funny, sunny cafe! With great music!"

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