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Owners of beloved Tarves cafe ‘ready to pass on the baton’ after five-year stint

Gill and Alfie Gray.
Gill and Alfie Gray.

You never know what life is going to throw at you.

The loss of loved ones, your youngster fleeing the nest, a cancer scare, the list goes on.

For married couple Gill and Alfie Gray, these all took place in the years leading up to 2017.

Not only had they experienced a lot of change in their lives, to say the least, but their working situations grew tiresome, too.

What do you do when you’re a) stuck in a rut and b) facing a line-up of life’s battles head-on? Well, you open a cafe, of course.

A cooked breakfast at The Murly Tuck.

Well that was the path that Gill, 60, and Alfie, 59, decided to take. And in April 2017, The Murly Tuck Cafe, located in their hometown of Tarves, was born.

New beginnings

Gill spent 15 years as a community health worker before entering the thrilling world of the hospitality industry, while Alfie’s background is mainly in retail.

The couple opened a B&B in Perthshire for several years in the 90s. But the main goal was always to launch a cafe.

“We had experienced a lot of changes in our lives over the previous few years, and we were feeling a bit fed up with our work situations and that it was time for a change,” Gill said.

Gill Gray.

“We heard that Tarves Development Trust, which had recently purchased the old doctor’s surgery, was looking for people to put forward ideas for running a business from the building, so we went for it.

“Alfie and I were successful and after almost a year of work by both ourselves and Tarves Development Trust, The Murly Tuck was opened.”

A hub in the community

The Murly Tuck is a busy, small, friendly cafe that provides home cooking and baking.

The business has a reputation for its cooked breakfasts, named the Muckle and the Puckle, and also serves up:

  • Homemade soups
  • Eggy bread
  • Paninis
  • Sandwiches
  • Cakes and home bakes
  • Ice cream
Marscapone berry tarts.

Speaking on the menu, Gill said: “We made a point of keeping our menu down to earth and straightforward as we didn’t want to compete with the other two cafes that were nearby.

“All our baking is done on the premises.”

Alfie went on to say: “One of the major investments we made a couple of years ago is that we bought an ice cream machine that serves soft serve (Mr Whippy) type ice cream.

“This opened up a new line of desserts as well as new custom for cones etc.”

The pandemic

All was running smoothly at The Murly Tuck for both the owners and customers alike. But then coronavirus struck.

The space originally had nine tables and a capacity of 33, which lessened to seven tables and a capacity of 27. It may not sound like the biggest change, but every number counts.

Gill and Alfie were also drawn to the idea of hosting a calendar of small music events.

The couple organised a sell-out event before Covid and planned another which, again, sold out, however they agree the time has come to “let someone with new ideas and lots of enthusiasm and energy take over”.

The interior.

“Covid has made us think a lot about the fact that life is short,” Gill went on to say.

“We have not had as much time as we would have liked to spend with friends and family doing the things we enjoy over the last six years, and don’t maybe have quite as much energy as we used to.

“The café has so much more potential.”

‘We are ready to pass on the baton’

There are currently eight members of staff working at the cafe, including Gill and Alfie, and they hope the new owners will keep the team intact.

They have received “quite a few inquiries” over recent weeks.

“We would love for someone local to take over and keep the interests of the community at heart, and continue to provide a place where a warm welcome and a chat are just as important as the food,” Gill added.

Gill and Alfie outside the cafe.

The couple is hoping for the cafe to be in the capable hands of another before the summer is out.

After hanging up their aprons, Gill and Alfie intend to spend the light, warm nights on their motorbikes, something they have always enjoyed.


Gill and Alfie took to social media to explain the reasoning behind selling the business, which caught the attention of the local and surrounding community.

The post has over 200 comments, thanking the couple for their hard work over the years and saddened by the news.

On the post, one person wrote: “So sad to hear of this, but wish you all the best for your future, and hope the new owners do as well as you have. It’s a lovely coffee shop and the food is of high standard.”

BREAKING NEWS Many of you will have seen the article below in the March edition of TBC but for those not in the village here is our latest news……SHARE, SHARE, SHARE

Posted by The Murly Tuck Cafe on Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Another said: “This is really sad. A real treat is to come in for the “puckle”. That being said, life moves on, and we all have real lives to lead and families who deserve our attention and affection.

“I can only say very many thanks for the brilliant service over the last few years and best wishes for the future.”

For more information, email or call 01651 851489.

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