After 20 years running the eatery they developed from scratch, Nick and Sheryl Russo have sold Cafe Bugatti.

It wasn't long after a chance visit to York that they learnt a cafe was for sale in town. They had spent a night at Laurelville during a short break from running the motel at Cervantes. Having spoken to Warren Marwick who owned Laurelville and worked at the Castle Hotel, Nick and Sheryl decided to buy the cafe.

Sheryl said that when they took over, the morning trade only required one assistant to serve the tables and Nick had time to take two hours off for golf lessons. "We lived upstairs for the first two years. "During that time we bought the cottage on Ulster Road where we now live and did it up before moving in," she said.

"The name was a result of seeing a Bugatti car at the motor museum and it fitted with Nick's Italian background. "The model car in the window at the cafe was on loan from the museum," Sheryl said.

Nick said, "The cafe grew and changed with customer demand. "At first we were open every day including Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. "More recently our busiest time was 7.00am to 11.00am and we stopped opening at night. "Our very first customers were Ken Emberson and Ruth Morgan," he said.

"Our biggest shock came three or four weeks after we opened. "It was the York Jazz Festival and we served 130 people. "We just weren't equipped to handle that many people. "There were only 10 wine glasses!" Sheryl said.

In addition to the cafe we did a lot of outside catering including weddings, conferences and other functions. Two of the biggest were the Milner-Yeing wedding and Bendigo Bank state conference last year, they said.

"We've had a dedicated, hardworking local staff . "Our success wouldn't have been possible without them," Sheryl said.

"Many of our customers have become our friends. "We have developed strong bonds and don't intend leaving town anytime soon."We are staying on to work our little vineyard and after a break, Nick might look for some work," she said.

They agreed that not having the cafe would give them time to travel and make up for the family celebrations they'd missed because of it. With children in Perth, Thailand, Amsterdam and Melbourne, three grandchildren and another due soon in Melbourne along with Nick's father still living in Italy, they have plenty of catching up to do.

The new owners of the cafe are Maurice and Donna Buck.

Lindsay McNeill

ABOVE: Nick and Sheryl take time out for a coffee outside Cafe Bugatti soon after handing over to the new owners.