Payout too small to save pie cart

With so much extra time on his hands, former Alexandra Pie Cart owner Trevor Lyons' vegetable...
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 people.

"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 Carisbrook.

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 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 history".

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."

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