Meet: The Hornblows

August 30, 2017
Meet: The Hornblows

For Ian Hornblow and his two sons, there's "nothing better" than working alongside your family.

Hornblow is a surname synonymous with hospitality in Wellington.

For restaurateur and proud dad Ian Hornblow – think Kasey's, The Roxburgh, Cafe Bastille and Moore Wilson's Fresh – working alongside your two sons is about as good as it gets.

Ahead of Father's Day, we get to know the trio and discover that there are few cons when it comes to the family biz, unless of course you were hoping to take a sick day.

How did your working relationship come about?

"We currently work together at Panman, our paella shop, catering business and the production kitchen for our Hoot Hot Sauce. We opened our doors in July to the Wadestown community and we're loving the vibe. We've really been welcomed into the community.

"Dad has always been involved in the hospitality industry, so a lot of our childhood was spent around restaurants, after school and during the school holidays. Naturally, as we got older, Dad started to give us jobs. We started with cutlery polishing and topping up water glasses and eventually progressed to waitering in a handful of establishments over our teens and throughout university.

Our working relationship has always been about Dad teaching us what he knows, and providing us with the opportunity to put it to practise."

Hoot is very much so a family business. How exactly has the business evolved?

"After sharing our Sofrito (hot sauce) with friends and whanau, we realised the potential in our product. Everyone had their own way of using the sauce and it soon became essential for the pantry. Now, we are producing the sauce at Panman HQ in Wadestown. We distribute our sauce throughout New Zealand from our website. We live by the saying. 'no sauce, no fun.'"

As a family, you’re heavily involved in the Wellington food scene. What’s the most exciting new trend or movement evolving in Wellington hospo at the moment?

"One thing we all agree on is the clear movement away from traditional fine dining, and a trend towards a much more casual approach, while maintaining the quality in service and food. There is an array of new and exciting ethnic foods and people who are passionate about hospo as not only a lifestyle but a means to support your family."

Zach, what’s the most significant piece of hospo/business advice you learned from your dad?
"Always keep up with trends, study your customer and take note of what it is they are asking for. Emotional intelligence is a big factor in understanding what your customer wants."

And Rhett, what about you?
That first five seconds is the most important part of your interaction with a customer and after that, it's all about communication. Remember, the customer is always right, even when they're not."

Ian, what have you learned from mentoring/working alongside your two sons?
There is nothing better than working with your family, you connect and represent the same values."

Lastly, if you could offer another father and son(s) led business some words of wisdom, what would they be?
"Use the youthful energy and respect it, hospitality is now a youth-driven business. Never forget your family values and you will never let your customer down."