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Cable Bay Café

I totally understand councils need to carry out repairs and maintenance on local roads and sometimes I get a little frustrated at the timing of such works, but I’m sure the owners of businesses impacted by road closures needed to carry out the works are far more concerned than me. It is their livelihood and the viability of businesses like Cable Bay Cafe that’s on the line.

A recent example is the daytime closure of Cable Bay Road that council were going to start work on in the middle of January during the busiest time of the year for businesses at the bay. From B&B’s, Air B&B’s, the popular campground, the many people who head to the beach at Cable Bay and, of course, the delightful café that so many people enjoy when they spend time at there over the summer holiday period. The impact would have been huge.

Fortunately, the council representatives listened to the concerns of businesses at Cable Bay and the work start date was pushed out to the 12th February and lasting until around the 20th June this year.

I do understand the need to carry out significant roading works when the weather is dry and there is no perfect time to do some of these things, but sometimes I get the impression council decision makers don’t fully appreciate the personal impact these closures have on people and how closer consultation and community engagement will result in a community that is much happier with their council.

Again, thinking about the current Cable Bay Road intermittent closure (9am to noon and then 1pm to 3pm Monday to Friday), residents and businesses were advised in November that the work would start in the middle of January, the absolute busiest time of the year for any tourism and hospitality business. Any reasonably intelligent person living in Nelson would know that and would schedule major works accordingly. Why does it take feedback from highly stressed locals and business owners to get a mindful solution that everyone can live with.

Annette Meyer and Ed Briem are the owners of the Cable Bay Café

In June 2022 Annette Meyer and her partner Ed Briem bought the Cable Bay Café business and when Annette’s mother passed away they went back to Europe for a couple of months to be with family. She told me at the time that when they got back the road had been closed by slips when a storm wreaked havoc on the region while they were away.

The current road closure is to fix some of the damage done to roads in the area at the time. Ed says “We really appreciate the efforts everyone made to make sure the road was open as quickly as possible, even it if was one way in some places. It meant we could fully renovate the café and get it up and running for the 2022 summer season.”

So having been through a road closure once they are trying to make the best of the current situation. Annette says, “of course we would much rather work didn’t start during the busiest time of the year, it will have a big impact on our turnover and how much money we can put aside to see us through the winter months.”

Ed told me that they are grateful the road is being repaired at all and that in the medium to long term it’s a great outcome for them and the local community.

“The council staff we have been dealing with have been very supportive and super friendly, it’s just unfortunate it’s happening now. We can be angry about the natural disaster, but we can’t do anything about that, we’re just grateful they gave us the extra three weeks before starting work because January is by far our strongest month.”

To help mitigate the impacts of the road closure Annette and Ed have decided to offer dinner Friday night, stay open all day Saturday, including for dinner, and Sundays from 9am until 6pm, depending on the weather.

The menu for evenings will be slightly different but with lots of familiar flavours, “we are licenced so we will have food you can enjoy with a beer or glass of wine too.” says Ed. “It will mainly be a burgers menu but with interesting flavours not normally associated with burgers. We will have a specials board, fresh seasonal starters and salads and, of course, Annette’s famous desserts.”

There will be classic burgers like a beef burger, pulled pork as well as one or two vegetarian options. Annette, who used to be a chef in an organic restaurant in Zürich, will bring her most popular vegetarian recipes to the menu but adding a “Kiwi twist”. The sides will be much more interesting than just fries. Annette told me “We don’t deep fry anything here so there won’t be fries but there will be a crispy baked potatoes, grilled corn and we will be using our own tomato sauce we make using tomatoes grown by Romano’s on Cable Bay Road.”

All the food is made fresh and in-house, other than the beers and Gelato Roma’s ice creams of course. But their famous bagels will still be available and the burger buns are made in-house, fresh every day, too.

Speaking of beer, Cable Bay Café serves beer produced by a boutique Nelson brewery, Acoustic Brewery. Ed told me they love local producers and suppliers, so they support them as much as possible.

People who live locally tell me they love having a fantastic café in their part of the world, and I’m sure the local support shown to Annette and Ed helps make the café viable for them. I’m also sure locals will continue to support the business when people like me can’t drive out there during the week.

The last word goes to Annette “We are lucky to have such a delightful place and hopefully the evening weather will be nice and settled until the end of March, which is our traditional end of summer, so people can enjoy our new evening meals.”

Bookings for evening will be essential as they already have a waitlist for the first evening dinners that start soon. Check out their website for updates, reservations and more information.

Published in the Nelson Mail 21-02-2024

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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