Kind food heads north to main street

Penelope Baldwin and Nick Maguire are hands-on transforming the former Reef Seafood Restaurant &...
Penelope Baldwin and Nick Maguire are hands-on transforming the former Reef Seafood Restaurant & Bar in George St into their new Kind Company premises. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Penelope Baldwin jokes she should have copyrighted the use of the word kind, before the Prime Minister made it her catchword.

Her Kind Grocer is going through something of a change. It will no longer be Kind Grocer and it will no longer be on Vogel St.

"We’ve closed the store on Vogel and we’re just frantically renovating the new space," she said.

"It’s quite big ... it’s quite a big job. We’re trying to open in three weeks."

Their goal is to open by July 23.

But, they will be opening Kind Company — more of a cafe now, than the grocer it started as.

And they have taken up 333 George St where the now closed Reef Seafood Restaurant & Bar used to be, near Modaks Espresso.

While they loved their Vogel St location, Ms Baldwin and her partner, Nick Maguire, were living upstairs and as they are expecting a new baby in November, they needed somewhere with more space.

"There was just no room. We had to move out."

Ms Baldwin said they wanted to diversify, and to do that they needed a bigger kitchen space.

"The place we’ve got now, the kitchen is huge. It’s about five times the size."

That means they will be able to do more catering, which has increased significantly since Covid, she said.

They also supply vegan products to other cafes and restaurants around New Zealand.

Now Ms Baldwin hopes they will be able to still trade if the country or city has to go into lockdown again.

"We weren’t able to trade at all through lockdown.

"We were probably 80% or 90% cafe, rather than grocer."

That move from grocer to cafe was largely down to profitability and supermarkets stocking more vegan products.

"The food was much more profitable and much more in demand than any of the groceries.

"When we first started we were the only people getting most of the products in, but now supermarkets are doing it at a much better price so it was just getting harder."

Many of their grocery products came with a lot of packaging and travelled a long way from overseas.

Ms Baldwin said they were having trouble getting stock and wanted to reduce packaging.

"We’re wanting to move towards making our own products, making our own [vegan] meats or cheeses."

She said there were a lot of up-and-coming New Zealand producers of those sorts of products she wanted to bring in.

A vegan cafe was always accepted on Vogel St, Ms Baldwin said, but she expected a more mainstream crowd looking for bacon and eggs-type food at their George St premises.

"Our staff are so friendly and not judgemental ... . Most people want to give it a go. We’ve sold oat milk lattes to dairy farmers and they’ve loved it."

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