Magpie makes move into bar business

Sam Valentine (left) watches as his new business partner Troy Butler pours a pint at Morning...
Sam Valentine (left) watches as his new business partner Troy Butler pours a pint at Morning Magpie’s new bar. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
They met through mutual friends.

Now they are business partners.

In late 2019, just months before the Covid-19 pandemic started to spread throughout the world, Dunedin man Sam Valentine returned home after three years living in England — initially just for the summer.

"It was supposed to be a three-month trip just to apply for a visa and I’m still here," he said.

Realising he needed employment once he knew returning to the United Kingdom was not going to be possible, Mr Valentine got a job working at cafe Morning Magpie through a good friend.

He had been working at a coffee roastery in the UK and only anticipated staying at Morning Magpie a few months.

More than two years later, he has bought into the lower Stuart St business and is helping to expand it into a bar, which officially opened at the weekend.

He and Mr Butler have recently completed a redevelopment of their premises and have expanded it into the vacant site next door.

Mr Butler started Morning Magpie in 2014 as a 21-year-old with a budget of $15,000.

He had been working in hospitality since he was 16 and wanted to give running a business a go.

Initially, he only got a one-year lease on the premises as a "safety net" in case it did not work out.

"It was very much a steep learning curve ... still is in a way," Mr Butler said.

Asked what the impacts of Covid-19 had been like on the business, he said "pretty awful".

Mr Butler had had to think about how they ran the business, particularly in terms of costs, staffing and operating hours.

"I’m glad we have been resilient, but it has been tough, really tough," he said.

Despite the ongoing difficult trading environment, both Mr Butler and Mr Valentine were confident in their decision to expand the business.

As people began to return to their pre-pandemic habits, Mr Butler believed there was a good market to tap into.

"We’ve come out of Covid stronger than we went in so we’re confident it will work."

He said it was a lot less stressful with the support of Mr Valentine.

"Trying to set up a brand-new business while trying to run another is tough so it’s good that we have each other," he said.