THE owners of a beloved Govanhill cafe have said that they are feeling very "emotional" after working their last shift this weekend.

Local heroes Mirella and Dino Iafrate have spent more than 40 years working side by side at the very heart of their Southside community at the Bluebird Cafe.

Amazingly, it seems Mirella’s love affair with the Cathcart Road shop stretches even further back.

Glasgow Times:

She said: “My children joke with me that I’ve never had a job interview.

“My parents owned the cafe before me, so it’s been in my family for 63 years.

“My childhood, teenage years and married life have all been spent at the cafe and they’ve all been fantastic.”

The initial announcement of the couple’s retirement last week prompted a huge outpouring of support from customers who have been lucky enough to call the Bluebird Cafe their local over the years.

Hundreds of touching tributes have since been posted online along with a JustGiving page to raise money as a well-deserved parting gift for the pair.

Glasgow Times:

Looking back to last Saturday as she hung her apron up for one last time, Mirella said: “It’s been so emotional.

“We left the shop at about half eleven on Saturday and customers were still coming in to say goodbye.

“There have been flowers and hugs and gifts.

“Even the young or teenage boys that I would usually call ‘scallywags’ have been coming in to give us cards and say goodbye.

“I was out getting groceries when someone stopped me to tell me about the fundraiser that had been started for us.

“I would never have expected that. I was very, very touched by it all.”

There’s no wonder that the cafe has stayed so dear to the people of Govanhill since opening in 1961.

The retro interior of the Bluebird could instantly whisk you on a journey back in time, and a menu offering simple pleasures from beans and chips to a snowball ice for dessert made that hit of nostalgia stronger still.

Glasgow Times:

While Mirella has always enjoyed the way the space reminded her of those very first days with her parents, over 60 years later she now feels it’s time to allow a new owner to create their own memories in the shop.

She said: “It will be kept on as a hot food shop, although it won’t be the same as it is now.

“We’ve always tried to keep the cafe the way it was all those years ago, but things are changing now.

“We were never on Just Eat or anything like that.

“It feels like it’s time for a little bit of fresh blood for the place and some new ideas.”

As the couple look forward to a new career of ‘babysitting duties’ for their young grandchildren, Mirella is eager to share her appreciation for the people who have made their years at the shop unforgettable.

Glasgow Times:

She said: “I feel like sometimes Govanhill gets a bad reputation but it's not deserved in any way.

“The people here are the salt of the earth, it’s such a lovely and vibrant place.

“I really can’t find the words to express to you how much love I’ve felt from this community throughout my whole life.

“I couldn’t find a single bad word to say.

"People have been thanking us, but I really think it should be the other way around.

“They’re the best in the world.”