Waitress retires from one of Wales’ most famous cafes after 48 years

A waitress brought the house down when her Suzi Quatro dance moves saw her shoe go flying through the air and land in the middle of a customer’s chicken dinner.

Thankfully, the customer and everyone else in the cafe that day saw the funny side.

That was 28 years ago and Cath Williams kept her job and is still working at Kardomah Cafe on Swansea’s Portland Street.

“It was hysterical. It was just one of those things.

“It was one of my customers, Ron’s 40th birthday around 28 years ago.

“He had his party in the Post Office Club on the Kingsway.

“He was here the day of the party and I showed him the Suzi Quatro dance moves I was going to do at the party.

“I was kicking my legs and my shoe went flying off.

“It landed in the middle of a customer’s chicken dinner.

“Everybody was in uproar laughing. She saw the funny side as well.”

She said she loved meeting all the different customers over the years at the cafe
(Image: Kardomah cafe)
She has become such a fixture it has led the venue to be dubbed Cath’s Cafe
(Image: Kardomah cafe)

It is just one of the memories that have made Cath’s time working at the Kardomah so special as she prepares to retire after 48 years.

She has become so well-known that some call the Kardomah ‘Cath’s Cafe’.

Over the years she has served famous faces from Bonnie Tyler to Alvin Stardust and was on hand when the actor Bill Nighy dropped by for a fish dish.

“There’s been a lot of stars in there over the years,” she said.

“We had Elijah Wood in when he was filming the Dylan Thomas movie, along with David Tennant, Bernard Cribbins when they were filming Dr Who.

“We also have Dave from Gavin and Stacey coming in pretty regularly and one of the stars from Game of Thrones.”

Cath said: “I’ve met Bonnie Tyler and Alvin Stardust. I didn’t call her Bonnie I called her by her real name Gaynor. Her husband used to come in every morning.

“She’s fab and down-to-earth, she’s amazing.

“I didn’t serve him personally but we had Bill Nighy in and he had haddock and chips.

“Owen Money used to come in here and Matthew Stevens, the snooker player, has been in here.

“They are just fab.”

She remembered the time when she danced like Suzi Quatro and her shoe flew into a customer’s dinner
(Image: Kardomah cafe)
She said working at the city centre cafe had helped pull her through the tragedies she’s faced in life
(Image: WalesOnline/Gayle Marsh)

Cath had to learn fast when she started work there as a 17-year-old on October 14, 1972.

“When I first started here, we had cups and saucers already laid out on the table.

“When a customer ordered a coffee, I brought over the whole pot of coffee and milk and left them on the table.

“I didn’t realise I was supposed to pour the coffee for them.”

“This time last year, we were still busy but not as busy as it was then.

“People used to queue for ages to get a table. We closed at 6pm and people would still be queuing at quarter to six to come in.

“Years ago, the customers would keep coming in all day, it was the way Swansea was but everywhere has gone quieter.

“I would still say we are the busiest cafe. I think it’s because of the atmosphere and the food and we are very clean.

“The food is always good food or fresh food or home-made and a good choice of menu.”

She revealed she was lured away from working at the Windsor to the Kardomah by the pay rise
(Image: Jonathan Myers)
The waitress revealed there had been a host of famous faces through the doors over the years from Bonnie Tyler to Bill Nighy
(Image: WalesOnline/Gayle Marsh)

She first started out at the Windsor serving customers on a Saturday when she was 13. She then worked nights for £3 a week but it was the pay on offer at the Kardomah which lured her away.

“It was a pay rise, it was a lot of money – it was the place to be,” she said.

Back then the cafe was under the ownership of Pietro Luporini which switched to his son Marcus who was just a boy when Cath started.

Cath said working at the cafe had helped pull her through tragedy, including the devastating loss of her daughter Sarah at just 21 and her husband last year.

The Kardomah is one of her favourite places as well as people in Swansea
(Image: WalesOnline/Gayle Marsh)

“It’s a special place to work and has seen me through everything.

“My daughter Sarah was 21 when she died. When she was 12 and a half she had kidney failure and died on the operating table but was brought back.

“I was off work for a few weeks when she died but when I went back to work it helped to take my mind off it.

“Same when my husband Keith died last year. I was off for weeks.

“He suffered a stroke before his 66th birthday, it affected his balance and short-term memory.

“He had to go into a nursing home and had to have 24-hour care.

“I used to visit him every day after work and on the weekend. He died of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

“My son Wayne also got shot in the eye when he was 14. I have had my fair share but work has helped me along.”

Cath, who is exempt from wearing a mask due to her medical condition, had expected her final shift to be on New Year’s Eve when she celebrates her 66th birthday but her final shift is now expected to be Christmas Eve.

“People can’t believe I’m retiring,” she said. “They are saying we are going to miss you, it’s so sad.

“Everyone keeps saying I’m a legend. I enjoy speaking to people, I can’t help it – it’s just me.

“The customers have kept me there and the girls have too.

“I will be very emotional when the time comes.”

WalesOnline – Swansea