Keeping warm are (from left) Wai Dining Group co-owner Jan
Rae, Polly McGuckin, of Exquisite Wool Blankets, Public
Kitchen and Bar manager Heidi Thomson and Domenic Mondillo,
of Mondillo Wines. Photo by Jackie Gay/Stillvision.
When it came to warming up Queenstown's Public Kitchen
and Bar over winter, the solution was simple - New Zealand
And it all fell into place after Domenic Mondillo was tackled
by restaurant manager Heidi Thomson about ways to promote
Mondillo Wines and also how to keep customers warm.
Mr Mondillo's wife Ally had been looking for wool blankets to
put their branding on and use as promotional items for
clients and overseas visitors and met Polly McGuckin at
Exquisite Wool Blankets.
Mrs McGuckin, who shares her family's passion for the wool
industry, set up Exquisite Wool Blankets five years ago.
The business is part of Yaldhurst Wools Ltd, the company
which was established by her father John Betts.
Mrs Mondillo said it seemed a ''perfect opportunity'' to
promote New Zealand wool, while keeping Public Kitchen and
Bar customers warm, and continuing their joint beliefs in
sustainability and using New Zealand-made products.
Public Kitchen and Bar co-owner Jan Rae was also sold on the
idea, saying the business sourced its meat, vegetables, wine
and beer as locally as possible.
''It didn't make sense to use a fabric made offshore when we
have beautiful New Zealand wool grown on our doorstep,'' she
It was naturally renewable, biodegradable, recyclable,
sustainable and extremely warm.
''Our customers . . . will be extremely happy either inside
or outside under these beautiful wool blankets this winter
and on summer alpine evenings,'' she said.
It was also hoped to sell the blankets to those who ''can't
bear to give them back'' and wanted to take them home as a
memory of New Zealand, she said.
Mrs McGuckin described it as a ''great move'', saying she had
always been frustrated by the polar-fleece blankets offered
for outdoor dining when she was in Queenstown.
New Zealand had always been renowned for being a wool-growing
country and she believed Public Kitchen was ''leading the
way'' with using a natural fibre and sustainable product.
Her business had grown each year as people were becoming more
aware about natural fibres and wanting to use wool more
Mrs McGuckin also has the rights to import woollen caskets
from the United Kingdom and that business was also growing,
Wool Week is being celebrated from May 26 to June 2, with
various events throughout the week promoting the fibre
through fashion and interior design.
More than 30 designers have committed to celebrating wool in
their retail locations around the country.