Why and how did Elizabeth Café & Larder get started?
My husband has always wanted a restaurant. We were approached by the developers of a new building to set up a café underneath a corporate building. It was a great opportunity to get started in the business.
How did you feel when you found out you had won your award?
Over the moon and rewarded for the last three years of hard work. We were really happy for the team.
Who is the Elizabeth Café & Larder customer?
We have a really broad market: everything from our corporate customers to ladies lunching, families having an outing in the weekend or large groups of 30-somethings having a great catch-up.
When deciding on a décor for your cafe, what was most important to you?
We wanted a big-city-café feel with some Scandinavian touches and a splash of colour. We chose yellow which we've dotted around the cafe on the light cords, cutlery boxes and takeaway coffee cups. Our fireplace is huge but also serves the role of dividing up the café space.
Who came up with the menu and what was the idea behind it?
Our menu is a collaborative effort between the chefs, our friends and front of house staff members. We change it every six months although some items, such as the snapper taco, will be on it forever.
What's your food philosophy?
Fresh and full of flavour. We love creating dishes from many genres but our favourite is Asian fusion. We like to push the boundaries a little by giving customers something a little unexpected.
Is there one dish that is particularly popular with customers?
The snapper taco and our salt and pepper squid have always been our biggest sellers. One is fresh, healthy and packed with punch and the other is a little indulgent but super yummy.
Do you have any new plans for Elizabeth Café & Larder or will you stick to your winning formula?
We have a big barbecue grill which we set up at local markets over summer. It's a huge hit as Kiwis love their barbies!
What has winning Best Metro/CBD meant for you?
It’s been a fantastic reward for our efforts. Hospitality is a hard industry with so many variables to success. We’ve worked hard to get things right and sometimes it’s been a tough slog. It's been great for the team, many of whom have been with us since we opened.
What’s the best part of your day?
First thing, when I walk in early morning – seeing the sunrise and smelling the coffee. Saying 'Hi' to my team and knowing that the day will be full and busy.
What do you find most satisfying about working in the business?
Working with a great bunch of people and having so many regulars who come in nearly every day.
See the full list of NZ Café of the Year Award 2016 winners at nzcafeoftheyear.co.nz.