An Argentinian man proved the way to councillors' hearts was
through their stomachs at a Queenstown Lakes District Council
community services committee meeting yesterday - providing
the councillors, staff, media and public with complimentary
South American pasties ahead of the committee discussing his
application for a 10-year rental of a proposed Earnslaw Park
Mauro Viale, the Empanada Kitchen director, spoke to the
committee during the public forum about his plans to rent the
kiosk, to be established in the renovated Earnslaw Park
public toilet building, which he would use to serve
Expressions of interest for the 3sq m space were called for
in December and Mr Viale's was the only application received.
Mr Viale's proposal said the empanadas would be prepared and
cooked in a commercial kitchen and delivered by van to the
kiosk, which would contain equipment to keep the South
American pasties hot until sold.
It was proposed to also offer cold drinks, but no coffee or
alcohol, for sale and he did not consider seating would be
The Empanada Kitchen was proposed to be open from 10am to
11pm daily and would align with the public use of Earnslaw
Park - which was often associated with food.
''There are no direct competitors selling identical products
... Our empanada flavours are all unique and hand-made.
''Our philosophy is `simple things done well'.''
Mr Viale's proposal said there were initial concerns over the
compatibility of the product with public toilets. However, he
had been advised by Lakes Environmental's health officer it
was possible to serve food at the location despite its
proximity to the public toilets.
''The proximity of the toilets means that, if desired, there
is somewhere close by where customers can wash their hands
Mr Viale told the committee yesterday he believed the
addition of the Empanada Kitchen in the kiosk would be a
''good asset for Queenstown, especially for the multicultural
''It will be a kind of fast food ... It's affordable and a
high-standard product, I believe.''
To prove his point Mr Viale sought the committee's permission
to bring in a selection of his empanadas to taste.
The smells wafting through the council chambers proved too
much and committee chairwoman Cath Gilmour initiated a
''five-minute break'' while an amended recommendation for
another agenda item was drafted, encouraging those present to
have an empanada.
For many, one was not enough and Mr Viale's culinary skills
quickly earned the favour of those present - resulting in the
committee accepting the recommendation, which will see the
public notified of the council's intention to grant the lease
to the Empanada Kitchen and appoint a hearings panel to hear
Community Services general manager Paul Wilson said the
council's plans to upgrade the public toilets at Earnslaw
Park needed to proceed ''immediately'' so the toilets were
ready for the 2013 Queenstown Winter Festival.
Tenders for the proposal close today, but tenderers had
indicated the construction period would be longer than
originally planned for.
''If we want to have this facility open for Winter Festival,
we [need to] start immediately.
''I do want to bring construction forward, so we'll need to
put temporary toilets in until Easter at least.''