10 May 2024

Popular Wagga bakery cafe goes up for sale after 14 years

| Chris Roe
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After 14 years at Muffin Break, Natalie Prestia is looking to pass the baton.

After 14 years at Muffin Break, Natalie Prestia is looking to pass the baton. Photo: Chris Roe.

After 14 years of early starts at the helm of Wagga’s popular Muffin Break franchise, Natalie Prestia is ready for a break.

She has put the flourishing Baylis Street cafe up for sale and hopes to pass the baton to a passionate local with a heart for the community.

“I just think it’s time for fresh legs and fresh ideas and a fresh face,” she said.

“After 14 years I guess I’m just feeling a bit tired and need to move on and find something else to do for a while.

“I really want someone locally to buy it who loves this community as much as I do.”

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After cutting her teeth in the cafe game with the popular Blue Dish Cafe on Moorong Street, Natalie decided to take up the franchise in 2010.

“I was coming out of an independent coffee shop and I saw the advertisement for Muffin Break, so I went and looked at the ones in Albury, Wodonga and Lavington, and I went and spoke to head office in Sydney and thought – yeah, this is for me,” she said.

“I’ve found that they are a really supportive company because they’re a family-owned business and great to work for.”

Muffin Break was launched by Pat and Arthur Naismith in Queensland in 1989 just as espresso coffee and cappuccinos were taking off in Australia.

There are now more than 190 stores across Australia and Natalie said she had always had plenty of support from the company, particularly through the pandemic.

“They saved me through that time and I was actually the number two store in Australia during COVID,” she said.

“When so many businesses closed, I stayed open and they said – we’ve got you Nat – and they supported me and we did well.”

Natalie Prestia

Nat and the team are renowned for their speedy service and great coffee. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

The Muffin Break team in Wagga is renowned for speedy service and Natalie explained that the trick is knowing the job and the customers.

“We can be four deep at the counter and I’ll have their coffees sitting there waiting by the time they are ready to pay,” she laughed.

“It comes down to how we train our baristas, getting to know our regulars and remembering everyone’s coffees.”

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Natalie had initially considered selling in late 2023 but decided to hold off to make sure the business remained strong after new competition moved in next door.

“When I found out about Oliver Brown coming, I thought – I’ll give it another six months – and at first I did take a hit, but it quickly came back,” she said.

“They’ve got their customers, I’ve got my customers and they [Oliver Brown’s franchisees] are really beautiful people, so it’s been good.”

Natalie said farewelling the customers she served daily would be difficult and highlighted the importance of local ownership.

“We just have the best location here on the main street in Wagga Wagga and everyone walks past and sees you and everyone knows you,” she said.

“You get to meet so many people from different businesses and all customers I’ve fallen in love with over the years have been great supporters of mine and they are very loyal.

“I will miss it, but I’m also ready for some time off and something new.

“I’ll probably play a lot of golf.”

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