Grand opening for Royal restaurant

JUDE Keepa, Kristy Mewett, Ryan Willis, Heather Mewett and Lindsay Menzies are ready to serve the first eager customers tomorrow. Photo James Sandbrook OB4330-01

AT 11.30am tomorrow, The Royal Opotiki Bar and Restaurant will officially open.
With a full staff, refurbished kitchen and dining area, and a tempting menu of meals and beverages, The Royal is finally ready to serve customers.

Bar and restaurant manager Jude Keepa said the The Royal was pointed towards becoming “a comfortable and upmarket environment” in Opotiki.

“We’re looking to be more of a fine-dining experience,” she said.

Lunch services will run from 11.30am until 2pm, where staff will begin to prepare for the 5pm-onwards dinner service.

“We won’t be closed between services, and bar snacks will be available,” said Ms Keepa.

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Also aimed towards a higher-end market, Ms Keepa said the beverages would be familiar and fresh.

“We will have wines to go with our meals. The wines we serve won’t be readily available in stores,” she said.

Traditional beer and craft beer would also be served.

Ms Keepa said staff would be able to assist diners with their dining and beverage choices.

“We’ve had some quite intensive training with our staff, so they know our menu.

“They can answer questions and make diners comfortable with what they’re eating or drinking.”

Professionalism and enhancing the diners’ experience was something Ms Keepa said The Royal was focusing on.

“It’s something the owners have been really awesome about.

“It’s actually something they’ve insisted on.”

Ms Keepa said dining at The Royal would be an “experience” for customers.

“It’s all about the experience, from as soon as people walk through the door to when they leave.”

The Royal will feature a completely different menu on Sundays – when brunch will be served from 9am to 5pm.

Head chef Ryan Willis said although it could be difficult to switch menus, it was important to have something for everyone, and all of equal calibre.

“I don’t believe in having one signature dish.

“People say I’ll make this dish a star, but why can’t they all be stars?”
Previously a chef at Moxi Cafe in Ohope, Mr Willis has 11 years of cooking experience and training throughout Australia and New Zealand.

He said his menu would give diners a special experience.

“I love food. That’s where my passions really come out.”

Mr Willis said he had been working to keep the menu seasonal and ingredients would be sourced from nearby, while adding his own take on menu items or designing them from the ground up.

While Mr Willis works from the kitchen, director Lindsay Menzies has designed and implemented all the interior, furnishings and decorations.

“I’m glad it’s opening. It’s been a bit of a battle,” said Mr Menzies.

Director Heather Mewett agreed, but said she was prepared for the grand opening tomorrow.

“I’m a little anxious but looking forward to it. It’s going to be exciting,” she said.