New owners excited about cinema venture

The new owners of Cinema Paradiso, Carolyn Whitaker and Hamish Menlove (in the blue T-shirts),...
The new owners of Cinema Paradiso, Carolyn Whitaker and Hamish Menlove (in the blue T-shirts), took over from founders Calum Macleod and Andrea Riley (in the purple T-shirts) earlier this month. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Home-made ice cream, freshly baked cookies, classic cars and fun times remain on the programme for Cinema Paradiso’s new owners and former teachers, Hamish Menlove and Carolyn Whitaker.

The Wanaka couple took over Wanaka’s popular cinema from co-founders Calum MacLeod and Andrea Riley at the start of the month.

The new owners also operate the Menlove Berries ice-cream caravan.

"We are really excited, pumped. It is an iconic business," Mr Menlove said.

"Initially, we are going to keep it the way things are. Over time? We don’t have any major plans," Ms Whitaker said.

One small change is the colour of the T-shirts — purple to blue.

Mr Menlove said he would begin making new batches of ice cream by the end of the month.

He said he also planned to put in a small ice-cream service window to the public, near the cinema’s main door.

They were keeping the yellow Morris Minor, a notable piece of cinema furniture, and had dedicated their own classic car — 1971 Volkswagen "Rosie the Beatle" — as the cinema’s "corporate car".

The couple were delighted to be operating in Brownston St, with a bookshop, backpackers and food carts for neighbours, Mr Menlove said.

"It is a really cool place to be in business. You are right in the hub of the town. It is a pretty awesome spot. There is lots of walk-ups, a lot of tourists, a lot of first-time customers."

He decided about 11 years ago to make ice cream to sell from his parents’ berry farm.

After Bob and Annette Menlove sold the farm to a developer, his ice cream became a mobile business.

He stopped teaching about five years ago to concentrate on business, and Ms Whitaker finished teaching last year.