Auctioning off history
By EMMA CORNFORD
IN THE back fridge, a bottle of champagne sits, unopened.
It has been there for almost 24 years, ever since Vorna Cooper bought the Gerards Cafeteria.
But on Saturday it will be auctioned off along with everything else before the cafeteria, which has been open in Grafton for 43 years, closes its doors for the last time.
In preparation for the sale, tables are laden with the cups, saucers, frypans and other bits and pieces which have been an integral part of the cafe over the years.
Mrs Cooper said seeing everything piled up in the middle of the store was devastating after so many years at the helm.
"I never thought it would all end up like this. It's heartbreaking," Mrs Cooper said.
"We had the last day here on Tuesday and everyone was coming in saying 'where are we going to go now', and talking about how long we've been here. We were running out of food by 1.30pm. It was very, very sad."
Mrs Cooper said 'absolutely everything' from the shop would be sold.
From bain maries to bread bins, salt and pepper shakers to serviette holders, cutlery to chairs, it will all go under the hammer on Saturday from 10am.
Mrs Cooper was expecting a large crowd at the auction ? some to buy cafe supplies and others to bid for their own little bit of the Grafton eatery's history. Some will just look at what's on offer.
"So many people have been asking about it and everything has a bit of sentimental value for me ... and the customers who came here for so many years.
"I'm sad at the moment but I don't think it will be 'til I walk out that door and lock it behind me for the last time that it will really hit me."
The Gerards Cafeteria is not the only shop to close its doors in the Gerards Centre in the past few days.
All tenants in the shopping centre were told in May that they had one month to vacate the premises.
Although no explanation was given at the time, owners of the building submitted a development application to Clarence Valley Council to redevelop the site into office blocks and shops.