In mid-January, Olivet’s beloved café and bakery, Fay’s Willow Tree, offered its customers a new option. After knocking out a wall and cleaning up some dust, Fay’s customers were able to enjoy a new dining area where people could sit on all four sides of a table, a luxury previously unavailable in the small shop.
In Olivet there aren’t many places to sit down for a bite of food and chat. The restaurants that are in town are enjoyable and well worth the visit, yet in the case of Fay’s Willow Tree Café and Bakery the restaurant was enjoyable, but not ideal for a long visit. Cramped and crowded if too many people came in at once, the bakery only entertained three tables. The need for expansion was apparent from the opening, or at least to Amy Williams when she started working at Fay’s.
Williams quickly moved into ownership at Fay’s, mere months after beginning work. The timing was right, the stars aligned, and Williams’ experience in food service aided her as she became a business owner and manager. The small space wasn’t doing her, or her customers, any favors, however.
“People would walk out because there wasn’t enough waiting room, let alone sitting room,” said Williams. “I didn’t like seeing people walk out, or turning people away.”
Months into taking over the business she started looking for other buildings in town. Fortunately, the space next door became vacant. The process was simple enough. She started renting out the neighboring building, as she did the original café, and made a doorway between the two buildings.
The new dining area isn’t completely finished, however. While there are about five new tables, comfortably spaced and well lit by additional windows and doors, Williams still plans to add a new coat of paint to the room, as well as some new feng shui to give the dining area the same cozy atmosphere as the original room.
Williams gives much of the credit for the expansion back to the community. The donation jar proceeds funded a lot of what customers now see entering Willow Tree, and she’s received significant community support since taking over the business. She’s also thankful to her contractor, Clay Persons, for his steady and flexible work with the expansion. In the end, giving back to the community that has supported her is what Williams cares most about.
“I don’t really care about how much money I make, as long as I can help the people I serve,” said Williams.
Anyone visiting Fay’s Willow Tree can sense immediately the community-oriented atmosphere. Williams has friendly, witty banter to share with her regulars, her staff is almost entirely comprised of local high school and college students, and of course she and her staff remember orders and customers’ personal favorites.
Fay’s Willow Tree Café and Bakery is located at 107 N. Main Street in Olivet. Owner Amy Williams encourages customers to continue coming out for coffee, lunch, and sweets during the summer months when business can slow down, and she hinted that a dinner menu may be in the works for the coming year. For more information about Fay’s, readers can visit the Fay’s Willow Tree Café and Bakery Facebook page, or call (269) 749-4108.