John Dale, whose Railway Restaurant was established in Station St (now Russell St), Hastings, in 1892, first moved to Napier in 1888 from Christchurch to buy the A1 Temperance Hotel.
Temperance hotels reflected the movement of the same name, and, as such, did not serve alcohol. They were family friendly and the one in Napier, which began in 1881, advertised itself as a "quiet and comfortable home for ladies and families visiting Napier".
The food was probably not the best in Napier, where for sixpence (about a few dollars now) you could get bread and butter, and a cup of tea for lunch or tea.
When John Dale moved to Hastings and started his restaurant, being opposite the Hastings Railway station meant he was well positioned for those arriving or departing on a long journey - and to accommodate this advertised "meals at all hours".
He sold tea, coffee and cocoa, and that staple of New Zealand food - the meat pie.
The Railway Restaurant also sold fish and oysters. Early settlers had quite the taste for oysters, and many restaurants advertised their supplies came daily from steamers (steam-powered ships on the coastal routes).
John Dale was in business until at least 1899, as one of the early pioneers of the restaurant trade in Hastings.
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