Cafe culture set to return

Ettrick Cafe owners Leandro Massariolo (left) and John Tomkins will soon be running the only cafe...
Ettrick Cafe owners Leandro Massariolo (left) and John Tomkins will soon be running the only cafe in Tapanui. Photo: supplied
Tapanui's cry for a cafe has been answered.

John Tomkins and Leandro Massariolo, who own the Benger Garden Cafe in Ettrick, have committed to opening the "Benger NUI Cafe" on Tapanui’s traditional cafe site on September 4.

"Back around April, our builder — who’s from Tapanui — started harassing us, saying ‘why don’t you guys open a cafe in Tapanui?"’ Mr Tomkins said.

"Then we did think about the opportunity.

"The town seems to be desperate for a cafe and we’re getting great feedback already."

Last Saturday, the businessmen signed a one-year lease on 30 Northumberland St, and expect to spend $15,000 to $20,000 on equipment and redecoration.

Tapanui’s last cafe closed its doors on the same site last year, and the lack of a daytime social spot led local man Peter McPherson to ask the Clutha District Council to help.

"You’ve been able to get a cup of tea in town since the Second World War, and suddenly there’s no place to go," Mr McPherson said.

"There used to be cars parked along the main street in the middle of the day and it was evident they were there for the cafe.

"I think it’ll be good for the town ... I hope they get the support they deserve."

Cr John Herbert, who had spoken for the council on the issue, was also pleased at the news.

"A place like Tapanui, if people have a reason to come out for a coffee they will and they’ll visit the nursery, the museum, have a round of golf ...

"It brings people together and I’m really appreciative of private individuals backing our town."

Mr Tomkins said the premises were well set up, and he was looking to acquire equipment from a cafe which had recently closed in Gore

"Your main care is staff and wages but we’ve had Benger for 12 years, so we’ve had some experience and we’ll know fairly quickly whether it’s going to work," he said.

"There is a bit of passing traffic but judging by the feedback I’m confident the locals will be pretty supportive.

"We’ll certainly give it a good go. We’ve got a good menu and we’ll stick to tried and trusted pride in what we’re doing."