Sadness as popular cafe Potter About to close

Potter About in Burntisland.
Potter About in Burntisland.

A popular cafe and community hub in Burntisland is to close, after seven years in business.

The much-loved Potter About, located on the High Street, has been run by Pat Gibson and Lorna Duffin, but will sadly close its doors on July 28.

The pair say that the move comes as a result of poor health and increased caring duties that would make running the cafe too difficult.

The cafe has long been a place of inclusion, giving job opportunities to disabled people and young people with learning difficulties.

It also collects donations for Kirkcaldy Foodbank, and even initiated a 'suspended coffee' scheme, where customers could pay for a hot drink or meal that someone in need could pick up later.

Pat said: "We've wanted to it to be a bit like a social enterprise, so we always wanted to be able to use it to help people less fortunate, right from the beginning.

"We're both Christians and both go to a local church so that kind of thing is very important to us.

Lorna said: "We've had lots of kids who have come in and really grown in confidence, and that's really made it worthwhile.

"There was a lady who came in yesterday who cried when she found out. She's a young mum who said that when she first came to the town with her baby that this was where she felt safe."

Pat said one of the most rewarding part of running the cafe was seeing the customers coming together.

"When we first opened there were old people who came in every day, who sat at different tables," she said.

"Gradually their tables moved closer and closer together and now they're just one big group that come in every single day, and it's lovely that they've built up their own wee community. It's great seeing that. We've seen kids come in as babies and watched them grow up."

Pat's son Peter started helping out in Potter About and discovered his love of cooking. He went on to work in Mitchelin starred kitchens and is now a head chef in Barcelona.

The cafe has also been a focal point for the community, with the foodbank and suspended coffee scheme.

Pat said: "We felt very priviledged to have this place so we wanted to use it well."

Lorna added: "The suspended scheme is about so much more than the sustenance. It's about dignity and come in, sit down, read the paper, meet folk for a chat, and it's what can grow out of that."

Pat said being a part of the community and promoting inclusion was very important to the cafe. "They know that anyone can come in here, who might not be accepted in other establishments. Anyone can come in here and have a coffee whether they've got money or not, whether they're homeless or not. No one will ever be turned away.

"I think that helps build an atmosphere. People feel safe, they feel comfortable in here. We've used the phones to help call benefit agencies and things like that.

"Our staff have been amazing at carrying that forward."

Pat: "Although we know it's time to close, it is going to be a loss. I feel bad from that point of view because these people are going to have to find someplace else to go.

"Although we know we have to go, we still feel a bit sad about what we're leaving behind.

"It's been such good fun though, we've had a blast."

Lorna: "It's been lovely here. The High Street's vibrant.

"Workplaces should reflect society as a whole, so that's a big passion of ours."

In a statement released on social media, Potter About thanked the public and the staff for their support over the years.

"It is with great sadness that we have decided to close Potter About Cafe.

"Ill health and increased caring duties have caught up with us both and we find ourselves unable to continue.

"We wanted to make Potter About a place where everyone is welcome.

"We are very thankful to have had such supportive, hardworking and dedicated staff.

"We are proud of the number of young people with a disability for whom we have been able to provide work experience and offer employment.

"We are also aware of the support of our local community and our regular customers from further afield.

"Thank you very much to you all for supporting our business, the suspended coffee scheme, the foodbank and for being part of the atmosphere, goodwill and community that is Potter About.

"We hope you will continue to enjoy Potter About until we close; our last day of trading is Saturday, July 28.

"Thank you everyone - we couldn't have done it without you."