THE opening of Ohope’s Moxi Cafe will see results of a concept that has long been in its “dream state”.
About 15 years long, say owners Amy Smith and Liz Horne, who’ve been talking about opening a cafe together for as long as they can remember.
Bound by a shared love of “good food, good coffee, and healthy living” , the long-time friends say opening day “really will be a dream come true”. With all consents for the venture now in hand, their long brewing concept is now on a roll.
Located between Cadera and 4 Art Sake Gallery in Ohope, Amy and Liz say their licensed cafe will focus on “fresh healthy food, great coffee and consistent service”. The two former Aucklanders who both moved to the Eastern Bay more than a decade ago say they’ve long seen a gap in the local market that they could happily fill.
Bringing what they say will be “a little bit of Melbourne” to the area, Amy says the small, funky and high-quality cafes reminiscent of the city, and, she says, of Wellington, is the style they are aiming for. “We also want to support local growers and suppliers as much as we can”. The two are confident the new cafe will complement surrounding businesses in Ohope.
“We should all work well together,” she says.With plans to open in the spring, the two women confess to being a “little nervous too”.
“There’s a way to go yet,” says Liz, “but once the shipping containers arrive onsite, everything is going to move fairly quickly”.
Moxi Cafe will operate out of the two containers, with street level wooden decking providing dining space, and a louvered roof providing protection from the elements. A 40-foot container will house the café’s barista, and the kitchen, where diners will be able to see newly-appointed head chef, 24-year-old Ryan Willis, at work. “We wanted the whole café to be open and transparent,” says Liz.
And the two are confident they’ve chosen the right chef to help bring their dream to fruition. Returning to New Zealand, having moved to Australia’s Gold Coast as a child, Ryan, formerly of Opotiki, says it was the opportunity he was looking for.
“I’ve been back for eight months and living in Rotorua,” he says, after leaving his head chef role at a fine dining sea-front restaurant in Burleigh Heads. Describing his cooking style as “fresh, vibrant and tasty,” Ryan says he’s looking forward to the café’s opening, and is aiming to stick to his motto of ensuring “diners always leave with a good memory”.
Securing Ryan early for their originally-planned opening in June, Amy and Liz say they’ve had plenty of time to get to know each other.
“He’s already like part of the family,” Amy says. “We’re all just waiting to get going”.
Running their own café will be a new career path for both women. Liz has spent the past 10 years contract dairy farming in the Waimana region, while Amy (who calls herself a “tree accountant”) has long worked for the Ministry of Primary Industries, implementing the Emissions Trading Scheme - “ensuring trees are planted, as declared by forest owners who are claiming carbon credits”. Amy is also a group fitness instructor at Sunny Gymz in Whakatane. “Healthy living is a huge part of my life,” she says. Along with Liz, the two both surf, ski, and mountainbike.
Liz says they had spent years idly talking about opening a cafe; where it might be, what food they would serve, and even what they would call it.
“Moxi” has been the name of choice decided long ago. “Short, memorable, and lending itself easily to ‘meet me at Moxi’ she says.
Delays with council consents derailed opening the café by several months, with the process being described by Amy as “extremely challenging”, but the two say they are now just looking ahead to opening.
“We don’t want to put a date on it because we wouldn’t want anyone to be disappointed, but we’re aiming for spring,” she says. “Early spring. 7am till 4pm, seven days a week”.