Residents in Hazlemere have thanked a café owner for creating a 'fantastic’ community hub after she announced she was stepping back to spend more time with her family.  

Sarah Lancaster opened The Canny Café on Rose Avenue exactly a year before the COVID-19 pandemic got in full swing in March 2019 – and has been on a rollercoaster journey ever since.

The café, which also has a branch at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden and a kiosk on St John’s Road in Hazlemere, has become something of a local phenomenon, building a loyal customer base that was understandably rocked by Sarah’s announcement last week that she would be stepping back from her role on July 1, leaving the original café to undergo a rebrand at the hands of another local business owner.

Commenting on the 45-year-old’s announcement of the news on social media, several customers-turned-friends thanked Sarah for the role she played in helping them through the COVID lockdown, even as she was coming to terms with running a small business in unprecedented times herself.

Jeni Blair said the café would “always have a special place” in her heart for “helping (her) through a lockdown pregnancy”, while Suzanne Harcourt said Sarah “will be missed and always remembered for being there during COVID”.

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Others thanked the mum-of-three for “bringing The Canny Café to Hazlemere”, describing her five-and-a-half-years on Rose Avenue as “a superb job” and a “fantastic” contribution to “our little corner of the world”.

The Roald Dahl Museum café and the kiosk will continue to operate under The Canny Café brand, overseen from a distance by Sarah, but saying goodbye to the original branch that unexpectedly grew from a cake-decorating side venture was always going to be difficult to swallow.

Speaking to the Free Press last week, she said she had been “really touched” by the outpouring of love she had seen from regular customers since sharing the news – many of whom have built their daily routine around stopping by for a coffee and pastry.

“It’s a really nice neighbourhood, and it’s always tough to say goodbye. But I’m looking forward to focusing on my family and the other two locations. And who knows what else might happen? I think there’s a part of me that will always be ambitious – I’ll probably just be looking for the next challenge.”