Dunedin cafe Crusty Corner to close

Rob Barker admits if he had to give his cafe a new name now he probably would not get away with "Crusty Corner".

In the mid-1980s, Mr Barker was trying to decide on a name for his new bakery on the corner of North Rd and Bank St in north Dunedin.

It was while having a few beers with some mates one night that the discussion arose on possible names.

"In the ’80s, Crusty Corner was quite a cool name and it involved bread and that is about it really. It stuck," he said.

Nearly 36 years later, Mr Barker, now 65, is calling time on the 6am starts and is shutting shop this Friday.

Crusty Corner owner Rob Barker (standing) serves regular customer Geoff Oswald yesterday. PHOTO:...
Crusty Corner owner Rob Barker (standing) serves regular customer Geoff Oswald yesterday. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
The well-known cafe had been for sale for a while but difficulties concerning the lease agreement meant the decision was made to vacate.

The idea to start his own bakery came after Mr Barker had been working as a breadmaker at Bread Bin on George St.

"That changed hands and I thought I would give it a crack myself," he said.

For the first 10 years, the store made hot bread, cream buns and donuts but that slowed down after supermarkets began opening in the weekend and late at night.

To combat that, Mr Barker decided to add a coffee machine.

"It just took off after that, then we added the breakfasts, BLTs, bread rolls, then it got crazy busy," he said.

When Crusty Corner first opened, there was only one other eatery in north Dunedin. Now they were "everywhere", Mr Barker said.

The decision to retire was not a hard one for Mr Barker.

"We made the decision and, once you do that, there is no point in looking back.

Having their final Tuesday get together at Crusty Corner in North East Valley are (back row from...
Having their final Tuesday get together at Crusty Corner in North East Valley are (back row from left) owner Rob Barker with regular customers Bernie Bowen, Asleigh Kirkby; (middle row) Vicki Hodge and Billie Drummond holding Morgan Sarginson (2); (front row) Lylah Butler (2), Heidi Bowen (2), Annashae Drummond (17) and Elijah Hawker (2). Photo: Christine O'Connor
"I’m looking forward to spending some time in Wanaka and doing things here and there, so the time was right," he said.

It had been a "massive" part of Mr Barker’s family’s lives as his four daughters had worked in the shop at some point.

He estimated he had given "thousands" of free lunches to family and friends over the years but it was part of the fun.

There had many stories and highlights throughout the years, Mr Barker said.

"In the ’90s, there was something crazy always happening up this end of town."

He remembered students coming down Opoho Rd from the halls of residence and slipping over on the ice.

There had been many loyal customers over the years

including 29-year-old Ashleigh Kirby who remembered going into Crusty Corner as a child.

As a secondary school pupil at Logan Park High School, Ms Kirby would go there every morning for a filled croissant.

Another longtime customer, Billie Drummond only found out the doors were closing last weekend.

"I was like ‘No’. I am a bit gutted. It is an end of an era," she said.



What over-sensitive group would the name 'Crusty Corner' offend?

Quite, what a strange land we are becoming (have become).

It's just because "crusty" has become a word with a double meaning now to *some* people. It's not an offensive word. It won't offend anyone. But the double meaning that some people think of doesn't have delicious bakery and cafe connotations.

Fabulous, colourful little cafe! Wish it wasn't closing.

So much for closing in 2016, reopening again a year later only to close again.....


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