Meet the business owner – Jeff Claxton from Citi Cafe
Citi Cafe has been an Albury institution for decades. AlburyCBD caught up with owner Jeff Claxton for a cup of tea and to get to know him and the business a little better.
AlburyCBD: Jeff, tell us a little bit about yourself and the business.
Jeff: I’m Jeff Claxton; my wife Krittaya and I are into our sixth year at Citi Cafe. We both come from a fairly strong hospitality business background, and – just give me a second.
Putting customers first, Jeff jumped up from our chat to serve a customer at the counter. I took the opportunity to have a sip of my tea.
Jeff: We’ve both had good corporate hospitality careers, and we had discussed returning to Albury. My family has lived in Albury for a long time, over half a century, and is well-established in the community.
I felt an obligation to come back, especially with my parents in their later years. We needed to find a job and decided on Citi Cafe because the previous owners had done a good job building the cafe.
Since taking ownership of Citi Cafe in 2017, Jeff and Krittaya have withstood every challenge thrown their way, from droughts to fires and, most recently, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
AlburyCBD: What is it that you love about hospitality and working in a cafe? What is it about this industry that drives you?
Jeff: Certainly the people who come through the door. We’re fortunate to be a high-profile cafe with a big following and diverse clientele. We get a lot of support from different organisations around town. After Covid eased, we’ve had people from all around Australia saying how great it is to come back after being locked down.
I like to think we’re all about relationships. One thing that’s kept us going has been the relationships we’ve built over the years. My background in Albury is in nightclubs and pubs, I went to North Albury Public School and Albury High School, and I’ve still got a lot of friends in the area, and it’s special to have a wide network of friends and connections.
Jeff has built the business on serving the community and supporting the people and businesses around them. We spoke a lot during our chat about the importance of random acts of kindness, being there for others and having that generosity of spirit returned when it was needed most.
Jeff: About 12 months ago, our son was very sick in the hospital for around three months. We had people coming out of the woodwork offering support, and my wife and I couldn’t be more grateful. I am a big believer in what you give out, you get back. One thing that has been demonstrated to me during Covid is that the community will dig deep and give back.
It’s also evident from speaking with Jeff that he holds the history of this business close to his heart and has worked hard to preserve the legacy of the previous iterations of Citi Cafe, going back to its days before taking on the moniker of ‘cafe.’
AlburyCBD: How long has Citi Cafe been in Albury?
Jeff: It started back in 1998 as Citi Baker – there’s a photo on the wall behind the counter – and then there was the transition to Citi Cafe. Twenty-four years later, we still get customers today who call it Citi Baker. It was very important to us when I found that photo to put it up to maintain the reference to Citi Baker.
It’s easy to see that for Jeff, owning Citi Cafe is more than simply running a business. It’s preserving a piece of the city’s history while shepherding it through new challenges into the future.
Jeff: The key for me is that what you see is what you get. I’m a very passionate individual, and people will say I’m pedantic, but the reason I’m so passionate and pedantic is because I have a responsibility to continue this business.
You can find Citi Cafe at 504 Olive Street, and if you’re lucky, you might just sit down at the right for Jeff to shout free coffees.
Questions and answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Produced by Rhiannon Veness in partnership with AlburyCBD