[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #ABCCAB;”] A [/dropcap]t the risk of using a bad pun, a new alleyway café in the heart of Port Fairy is quite arresting – not least because it is run by a former police officer.
The Farmer’s Wife Harvest Cafe, tucked at the end of a gorgeous bluestone and rubble walled lane off Sackville St, is the latest venture for local Jo O’Keefe who has had what can only be described as a varied career.
Until last November, Jo was Senior Constable O’Keefe based at the Portland police station as part of a 10-year career with the thin blue line.
Prior to joining the force, however, she had spent most of her life in hospitality, including working in kitchens while studying – and completing – a Fine Art degree at Deakin University in Warrnambool in the early 1990s.
“Everyone used to call me the Cupcake Copper because I was better known for my scones and cupcakes that I would bring into work, than for any actual policing,” Jo laughs.
“I have always had a background in hospitality though and, since I was 18, worked in Lorne, Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and up at the snow fields.”
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #ABCCAB;”] A [/dropcap]fter the birth of her son, Tex, in 2000, Jo decided to scratch an itch that she had harboured since she was 12 years old, after one of the police horses visited her school in Melbourne.
“That horse, ‘Gendarme’, had me completely hooked and I was determined to join the force one day…I finally did, just before I turned 40,” Jo explains.
“I am not sure why, but I thought it might also be better for me as a single Mum, which I was at the time, but I didn’t factor in the night shifts,” she laughs.
As a result, Tex was “raised by the village” of Port Fairy with various friends chipping in to help when Jo moved there in 2006.
It has made Tex a well-adjusted kid, who now helps out making smoothies and juices in the café during school holidays, says Jo.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #ABCCAB;”] F [/dropcap]our years ago, life took another turn when Jo married local farmer Scott Moore – hence the inspiration for the name of her café.
“I had been thinking about getting out of the force and I always wanted to run my own café, then this place came up and I jumped at it,” Jo says.
“I finished up work in November and, two weeks later, opened up the café in December.”
The café, which offers simple healthy lunches, coffees, cakes, fresh juices and a range of gluten-free products, hit the ground running and Jo found herself making 5.30am starts to keep on top of the summer rush.
“I knew it was going to be full on for those first couple of months, but it was great fun,” she says.
Part of the café’s appeal is that it is tucked well away from the main street and provides a safe place for kids who are kept entertained by the plastic farm animals that are provided by Jo and can be hidden into the nooks and crannies of the sandstone wall.
“I am not sure if we have found them all again yet,” she smiles.
[box] The Farmer’s Wife Harvest Cafe is at 47a Sackville St, Port Fairy, and is open 9am-3pm seven days. You can find it on Facebook here. [/box]
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