Saturday Girl Owns Purdy’s Seven Days a WeekNeil Hardie
Angus woman Hannah Muir started working at Purdy’s aged just 14 – another 14 years on she’s the proud owner of the Forfar café.
Hannah started as a Saturday girl in what is now Purdy’s Coffee House, when she was a young teenager.
In 2017 she bought the Forfar business from its previous owner, having worked there for 10 years at the time.
“I started in July 2007 so I’m celebrating 14 years here,” she said. “I started when I was 14 and it was called Coffee@Alison’s then. She sold it to the next owner, Ian, who named it Purdy’s after his dog, a black lab.
“I started off washing dishes at 14 then began serving customers, making coffees, baking the cakes and scones and making the jams.”
Now 28, Hannah earned a business degree from Abertay University then spent three years working in the oil industry in Aberdeen.
“I hated it”, she said.
“I didn’t like living in Aberdeen and I hated sitting at a desk all day.”
Even when she had a full-time career Hannah didn’t give up her shifts at the café.
“I was still the Saturday girl,” she smiles. “I would work in Aberdeen during the week then come up to Forfar on a Friday night ready for my Saturday shift. I worked six days a week for years.”
There has been a café where Purdy’s is for at least 40 years.
Hannah said: “Before it was Purdy’s it was Coffee@Alison’s and before that it was Smalls Coffee House. It was something else before that but I was too young to remember.
“It had always been a running joke that I would end up owning the place,” she added.
The transition from café worker to café owner was a steep learning curve.
She added: “There’s a lot of paperwork. And I had to learn a lot of things. Who our suppliers are, where they’re based, how much to order and when it arrives, getting a cash and carry card.
“When I was 14 I thought the scone fairy delivered all the cakes during the night. Now I know exactly where everything comes from.”
Hannah overhauled the café at the start of 2018, ripping out the old fixtures and creating a much more modern interior.
Purdy’s is part of the fabric of Forfar and Hannah has regulars who come in every day.
“She said: “They’ve been coming since I was 14. We’ve grown older together. I know all their schedules and exactly what time they come in each day.
“If they don’t turn up at the usual time I know something’s wrong and to check on them.”
Hannah makes sure she looks after her customers.
“A lot of them are old men who’ve lost their wives – it was one customer’s birthday recently and I took him out for dinner after I closed up.”
She had to close Purdy’s for several months during the early stages of the pandemic and her three staff remain on furlough. Throughout Covid she has worked hard to make sure the café has a future.
“I started doing deliveries of high tea every afternoon. They’ve been such a success that we still do them, though its collection only now because I have to be in here,” she said.
Hannah now seems to have entrepreneurship in her blood, as she has recently added a second business to her portfolio.
“There’s a wedding supplies shop along the street called Lovely Things. I popped in one day to buy a rosebush and ended up buying the business. It’s appointment only so I can run it alongside the café.
Would Hannah encourage other young people to set up their own business?
She said: “I would. It’s a lot of hard work and a steep learning curve, but it’s great being your own boss and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to being behind a desk.”