Pie cart may be back on the menu

enny Simmons and Neil Cameron stand in the shell of the Alexandra pie cart that they hope to have...
enny Simmons and Neil Cameron stand in the shell of the Alexandra pie cart that they hope to have up and running soon. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
The well-known Alexandra Pie Cart, badly damaged by fire almost a year ago, could soon be serving late-night revellers and travellers once again.

Alexandra couple Jenny Simmons and Neil Cameron have applied to the Vincent Community Board for a licence to operate a rebuilt pie cart in much the same fashion as the previous one, and hope they could be serving food again in about a month.

They purchased the shell of the former pie cart to turn into a ''mobile man shed'' or hen house and then discovered the damage was not as bad as first thought.

They have replaced the roof, put in a bay window and intend to furnish it with velvet curtains and chairs, turn of the century-type wall coverings and gold-mining and early settler memorabilia to ''set the scene for a must-see''.

They also intend to include healthier items on the menu including vegan and gluten-free options.

In a report to the board, Central Otago District Council property officer Brian Taylor said in recent years, the ''unacceptable late-night conduct'' of pie cart patrons generated complaints from residents and was seen as a contributing factor to vandalism in the town. He said police reported late night crime and vandalism had significantly reduced since the closure of the pie cart, ''and that alone may form a fairly persuasive argument against reinstatement.

''The board is presented with the challenging task of deciding whether it should encourage retention of a legitimate business activity in the town, or deny the activity in the hope of reducing potential for late-night disorderliness and crime.''

He said the original purpose of the pie cart was to provide a late-night dining service after other outlets had closed but eating facilities were readily available now and some licensed premises, which had to provide food, were open until 2am.

''The community need for the pie cart is considered limited today. However, there will nevertheless remain a proportion of the residents who view it as an icon.''

The couple's application states opening hours of 5pm to 5am Thursdays to Sundays as well as 11am to 4pm on weekends and public holidays, and for four weeks over the Christmas period. They have since revised their plans, after talking to police, and intend to close at 2am.

Mr Taylor recommended the board publicly consult to ''ascertain the community's appetite for a new pie cart at the same site'' and if that drew a positive response, the police should be involved in drafting the terms and conditions of the licence.

A pie cart had operated in the town for more than 60 years and was taken over by Lynne Giles and Trevor Lyons about 16 years ago. It was then situated in Athlone St until the street was closed in 2001.

The then Alexandra Community Board settled on Centennial Ave, outside the town museum, as a suitable location.

Last May, an electrical fault caused a fire which gutted the kerbside diner. An insurance claim was accepted but the payout was not enough for the couple to rebuild their business.

Mr Taylor said the couple chose to terminate the licence to occupy the Centennial Ave site and so this application would require a new licence.

The board will consider the application and Mr Taylor's report on Monday.

sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz

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