With so much extra time on his hands, former Alexandra Pie
Cart owner Trevor Lyons' vegetable patch is thriving. Mr
Lyons and partner Lynne Giles have been off work since
their business burned down in May. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
For Trevor Lyons and Lynne Giles, owners of the burnt-out
Alexandra Pie Cart business, a decision on their insurance
claim was bittersweet.
After six months of waiting, they have been given a payout
figure from the insurance company, but the money is way too
little to rebuild the business.
While the decision allows them to move on, it was not the
result they had hoped for.
"For over six months it's been like we were sitting in a
bubble suspended in mid-air. It's not the decision we wanted,
but at least we have a decision," Ms Giles said.
When an electrical fault in May caused a deep fryer to
overheat and start the fire, from which Mr Lyons narrowly
escaped, the couple's only source of income was destroyed.
Since then they have been living off savings, "pottering"
around the house and garden and "licking wounds".
Though they saw part-time jobs advertised, they hoped they
would soon be back running a pie cart and did not want to
disappoint an employer by quitting too soon.
Now, they may be looking more closely at job advertisements.
"We're not ready to retire and we like the involvement with
"We're pretty lost right now and need to sit down and think
about what we are going to do next," Ms Giles said.
She said though the insurance money was not enough to rebuild
and they could not afford to top it up, they had considered
other options such as buying a similar cart used at Dunedin's
However, the terms of the lease for the spot outside the town
museum where the pie cart used to be parked meant it could
not be parked there overnight during the week and the carts
from Carisbrook were not roadworthy enough to be towed away
and stored like the pie cart.
The couple still pay a lease on the site which they are
locked in to for the next four and a-half years.
Though they were feeling sorry for themselves, they both said
they felt for the town too.
The cart was a familiar Alexandra sight and the only place
for people to get food late at night, Mr Lyons said.
"But it was more than that ...so many varied people from
young to old [visited]. It was a place to talk, talk over
problems and feel safe."
Ms Giles said it was "such an important part of the town's
A pie cart in some form had been operating in the town since
1957. The couple had operated it for the past 16 years.
They had put it on the market a couple of times so they could
move on and do something else but the right buyer never made
an offer, she said.
"Now we have that chance to move on, but at a price."