First glimpse at expansion for iconic Gympie cafe
A NEW extension at iconic Mary St cafe, Emilia's, might look like a practical business move to some, but for owner Jodi Giorno it is also a stamp of her "commitment" to Gympie after 15 years.
The extension represents a step into the future for Ms Giorno, who was devastated by the sudden, shock death of her husband Giovanni last October.
"I actually just wanted to grab my children, get on a plane and change my name," Ms Giorno said yesterday.
"I just didn't want to be here.
"But the girls have been absolutely amazing," she said.
The "girls" are Kelly Jacobsen and Maria Leroyer, who work at Emilia's, and Ms Giorno is unequivocal about their impact in the wake of her husband's death.
They helped her take over running the business, she said, and were influential in her move to buy the building, a step which is serving as a bridge in her life.
"There's a lot of Giovanni I want to put in here, but it's predominately my influence now," Ms Giorno said.
"This is a little extension of the girls and I."
Their support was not all she was thankful to have, though.
"When Giovanni died the Gympie community was amazing," Ms Giorno said. "The amount of support that everybody gave this business - not just myself - was mind-blowing.
"If this community could help me get through that and support me in many ways, then I'm meant to be here. I'm meant to stay here," she said.
The extension opened on Saturday and while it represents the future of Emilia's, it also gives a teasing glimpse into Gympie's past.
The paint on the walls dates back to the 1800s, and paints a picture of a building which has had a little bit of everything.
"We wanted people to see the transitions," Ms Giorno said. "It really does make me really proud to be a building owner of a piece of history in Gympie."
It also includes an original hand-made brass Elektra coffee machine from Italy which Giovanni had.
While the machine may have stopped working and been replaced a few years ago, it was a personal touch which reinforced the atmosphere now brewing at Emilia's.
"I like to greet my customers, I like to know their families, I like to ask how people are doing," said Ms Giorno.