Leap of faith and hard work paying off in cafe

Vanessa's Cottage Cafe owners Vanessa Hendry and Tim Lockerbie outside their Hampden business. Photo Sally Rae.
Vanessa's Cottage Cafe owners Vanessa Hendry and Tim Lockerbie outside their Hampden business. Photo Sally Rae.
Vanessa Hendry and Tim Lockerbie may not have had a day off since Christmas Day - but you will not find them complaining.

The couple, in their 40s, opened their own business, Vanessa's Cottage Cafe, on State Highway 1 in the coastal hamlet of Hampden six months ago.

Ms Hendry had previously rented premises and run a cafe for just over a year, having spent all her working life in the hospitality industry.

When a cottage came on the market across the road, they took the plunge, went into partnership and bought it. It was a perfect acquisition as they did not want customers to feel like they were coming into a shop. Rather, they wanted a homely feel, Mr Lockerbie said.

Mr Lockerbie, a plasterer, did the majority of the work on the building, converting it into an attractive and comfortable cafe.

He previously worked for a contractor at Macraes for about six years, after returning from Australia, and stopped about a month before Christmas.

While laughing that he kept away from the coffee machine, his forte was the likes of making pies, breakfasts and fish and chips and he was also ''maintenance man''.

Ms Hendry acknowledged that launching her own business was a ''massive'' undertaking.

''Pretty much we put everything on the line,'' she said.

But they were relishing the opportunity of owning both their own building and business. It was their passion, despite the long hours, she said.

She believed the biggest challenge in the industry was getting out of bed early, seven days a week, and still being there at night, mopping the floors.

But hard work was not something that troubled the couple, who were thrilled with the growth in their business.

''It's just six months into it. You've got to put your heart and soul into it,'' Ms Hendry said.

Word had quickly spread, it was a key location being on the state highway and it was also a popular destination for Sunday drives.

Mr Lockerbie attributed its success to the cafe's food, which he described as ''big, hearty and home-made'', and the service.

Customers should ''watch this space'' as there were plans in the pipeline, which included making his own bread and rolls, particularly during the busy holiday periods.

- sally.rae@odt.co.nz

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