Why and how did Red Shed Palazzo get started?
We were originally from eastern Auckland and moved to a lifestyle block in Ararimu, in the Franklin District. Four years ago we had the opportunity to open Red Shed Palazzo and so we renovated the cafe and outside garden areas which had been closed.
How did you feel when you found out you had won your award?
It was a big surprise for us to have been chosen. We feel very privileged to have such a wonderful local community which has helped make this happen, and we certainly couldn’t have made it this far without the hard work from our amazing team.
Do you think the hospitality industry has changed much since you started?
Yes. Increased access to the internet and technology has not only allowed us to streamline and improve our own systems, but has also allowed us to reach more customers. However, our emphasis remains on refining our foundational skills and providing classic, excellent service.
Who is the Red Shed Palazzo customer?
We cater for a wide variety of events, ages, and the community at large. However, our loyal locals are our life-blood and have strongly supported us over the years. This achievement could not have been possible without them.
When deciding on a décor for your cafe, what was most important to you?
The most important thing for us was vibrancy. By making the cafe open we created a fluid indoor-outdoor flow which carries the vibrant colour and music out into the garden.
Who came up with the menu and what was the idea behind it?
Our chef Paul has lived and worked in California for five years, so the menu is based on Southern California style cuisine. We have a winning formula with our food and menu, and refresh it once a year. Our specials are created every two weeks to offer our regular customers something different.
What is your food philosophy?
Fresh, healthy and local. All our food is made fresh to order from local, sustainable meat and produce.
Is there one dish that is particularly popular with customers?
Our lamb’s fry and kidneys are very popular, but not far behind would be our Cajun chicken breast salad.
Why do you think New Zealanders connect so much with café culture?
New Zealanders connect with the relaxed dining experience of cafe culture. It allows them to catch up with friends and whanau, all while enjoying great creative food and coffee.
Do you have any plans for Red Shed Palazzo or will you stick to your winning formula?
We will be sticking to our winning formula in the cafe and will be focusing on weddings and private functions in the evenings.
What has winning Best Rural Café meant for you?
A great deal of time, effort and love have been spent by us and our amazing team to make Red Shed Palazzo what it is today. Winning this award means that our hard work has been recognised. Now others will be able to join in and experience our special, countryside oasis.
What’s the best part of your day?
The best part of the day is when the cafe is busy and bustling with customers. We really work well as a team and the cafe has an energetic vibe. It’s also satisfying to see the customers happy and enjoying the service and atmosphere.
What do you think are the essential elements to creating a successful cafe?
There are three elements which are essential. First a welcoming team who all share your passion for excellent service; second, fantastic food and coffee; third, a fresh, friendly atmosphere that leaves customers smiling. These are definitely the most essential elements to success.
64 Jesmond Rd, Karaka
See the full list of NZ Café of the Year Award 2016 winners at nzcafeoftheyear.co.nz.