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How Muffin Break Helped Karen and Gary Build a Second Career They Love

Muffin Break owners come from many different walks of life. Karen and Gary, the franchisees of two busy stores in Bundaberg’s Hinkler and Sugarland shopping centres, were both teachers before taking the plunge into hospitality.

Gary taught maths for almost three decades, then experimented with a few other careers. Karen did have the advantage of teaching Home Economics and Hospitality for 34 years before deciding to apply her knowledge outside the classroom! Importantly, both of them were ready to own their own business and build a life they love. It helped that they had always bought Muffin Break Coffee and loved it!

Training & Support for Success

All Muffin Break franchisees receive intensive training before launch, regardless of their backgrounds.

“The training in Sydney for three weeks was amazing and set us up very well,” says Karen. “The staff in Sydney are awesome and Mel, Maria and Megan were so great throughout our time down there.”

The support continued once Karen and Gary opened. “When we launched, Charles was with us for a week and Crystal for the first two days. So incredibly helpful! The fact that they worked with all the staff – not just Gary and me – meant we were all on the same page.

“The fact that our consultants, all the way through, have done that means it’s not just something I’m making up to tell the staff. When the consultant comes in and says the same thing it means something!”

Karen says that she loves owning a Muffin Break. “Apart from the mornings when I get a call from the baker to say they are sick, I love all of it! Even on those occasions when I have to bake, I love standing out the front of the store and looking at the cabinets and thinking, ‘I did ok today’!”

Karen and Gary love nurturing their staff. “We have an awesome group across both our stores. They vary in age but they love what they do – and that makes me proud and encourages me to help them achieve their best every day.”

Community Runs Deep at Muffin Break in Bundaberg

Karen also loves their customers and has forged deep connections in the community. “There are people I would never have known had we not bought Muffin Break,” she says.

“Now I stop in the shopping centre and chat about their day…their kids…grandkids…their holidays…their doctor’s visit! We have had many kids come in and thank us for being so kind to their elderly parents and being someone that they can depend on for a chat.”

Karen says that Gary is a great one for sitting in the food court chatting to the customers. “We have also had a few elderly customers pass away and that is very sad for all of us. They become extended family and we miss them when they don’t come in on their regular day.”

Being part of an iconic Australian brand that people love makes Karen proud. “When we mention we own Muffin Break, so many people go: ‘Oh I love their coffee/their muffins/carrot cake/vanilla slice, etc.’ And we do that! It’s such a good feeling.”

Owning a Muffin Break goes beyond bricks and mortar. Karen and Gary are very involved in sport in Bundaberg and sponsor many teams and events around town, for which they receive a lot of appreciation.

WIth Bonds That Last Through Thick and Thin, The “Good Always Goes In!”

Muffin Break’s motto is that the ‘good goes in’, with everything we do. It’s about putting a little bit of good into every customer’s day. While the covid pandemic has made the past 18 months challenging for everyone, Karen is very proud that their two stores stayed open the whole time, supporting the community.

“Our customers, many elderly, were so glad we did and would still come in. Not as often, but still just to touch base when they did their groceries and to get a coffee and something to take home for lunch. We received a lot of positive feedback about that.”

“We kept all our staff and gave them shifts. Not as many, but they didn’t want to stay home with nothing to do, so at least a four-hour shift was something.”

Karen and Gary also thought outside the box and started home deliveries; an idea that came from one of their bakers!

“We cranked up the Facebook page with delivery deals, long before Menulog came onto the scene, and next thing we knew Gary and I were full time drivers delivering to homes, schools, childcare centres and medical facilities. That remained so right up to Christmas. It has dropped off now to 2 days a week, but still the schools, medical facilities and childcare centres keep us on our toes.”

Karen is delighted that Muffin Break has regular promotions and constantly devises imaginative ideas to keep the menu fresh. “The Duffins are a great example of this, but I also think, for our oldies, it’s great that they know there will be a Mother’s Day special, and Christmas puddings in November and December.”

With her background in Home Economics, Karen also loves to express her creative side with spins on favourites like cheesecakes and flaky tarts or making regular items gluten free or vegetarian so that everyone gets something special.

An example is the Muffin Break Lamington Muffin for Australia day – Karen made their own Coconut Roughs, and also put on a gluten free option.

A Great Community Adds Spice to Life

While Karen says that if asked about his future goals, Gary would probably say: “retire” or “play golf everyday”, she admits that she in particular would miss the joyous interactions that Muffin Break brings her.

“I really can’t imagine not having Muffin Break. Two stores do keep me on my toes! Trying to shuffle twenty odd staff across two locations and keep everyone happy is the hardest part for me. Yet what else would I really be doing except for sitting on my veranda and watching the grass grow! I certainly wouldn’t be teaching anymore…that’s definitely past its ‘use by date’…and who would I talk to except Gary…and he’d be at golf. So instead, I get to be with my AWESOME staff and my FANTASTIC customers, and we chinwag all day!”

Build a business that you never want to walk away from – and a life that you love. Find out more today about becoming part of the Muffin Break family.

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