Retiring café owner desperate not to see shop 'back at square one'

Staff at Daybreaks Café in Ely

Sharon Wilton (centre), owner of Daybreaks Café pictured with staff members, hopes the shop can remain a café after retirement. Left to right: Daisy Cribb, Harriet Bird, Sharon Wilson, Sophie Walther and Lily Cribb. - Credit: Daybreaks Café

A woman who will step down from running her own café after nearly 20 years hopes someone can inject a new lease of life into the shop. 

Sharon Wilton took over Daybreaks Café in Ely having initially moved to the city from Sussex 32 years ago. 

“I ran the business with my late husband and two daughters, but now they’re pursuing their own careers and took on full-time jobs,” she said. 

Sharon’s daughters Harriet and Sophie helped out at their mother’s business but were unable to fully commit. 

The premises on Fore Hill was refurbished in 2019 with the hope that it will continue to run as a café. 

But Sharon, who plans to retire in September when the current lease expires, fears that if a takeover is unsuccessful the café will revert back to an empty space. 

“I’m finding it increasingly difficult due to a rise in prices and I’m getting older,” she said. 

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“If nobody comes forward, I will leave the space and give the keys back to the landlord. 

“The landlord said if no one comes forward, it will be back to square one.” 

When Sharon arrived in Ely, she wanted to find a job that where “I could take the children to school and pick them up”, and she managed to do just that. 

The café, which can hold up to 30 people at any one time, has seen many a customer arrive for a tasty sandwich or spicy baguette during its time in the city. 

“No two days are the same,” said Sharon. 

“I would probably say the highlight of being here was when we were a sandwich and baguette bar and seeing a queue of people down the hill waiting for a baguette. 

“One of the things people came back for was Cajun chicken in a sandwich or baguette.” 

Sharon believes now is the right time to prepare for retirement, and hopes that Daybreaks Café will continue to serve the Ely community. 

“This won’t make you rich, but it will help get you a good living, but you have to work for it,” she added.  

“I have had this only as a sandwich and snack bar; it has potential.” 

If you’re interested in running the café and for more details, call Daybreaks Café on 01353 666677.