Kumeu cafe full steam ahead after retro refit

By Colin Taylor

Carriages Cafe and Wine bar on State Highway 16 in Kumeu. Photo / Supplied
Carriages Cafe and Wine bar on State Highway 16 in Kumeu. Photo / Supplied

Carriages Cafe & Wine Bar, based on a railway and rail station theme, is a dining establishment with a difference located in Kumeu on State Highway 16 off the end of the North Western Motorway 26km west of the Auckland CBD.

"Due to family commitments, the current owners, John and Sue Humphrey, are reluctantly and prematurely placing the cafe on the market after they have undertaken a major refurbishment of Carriages," says Wayne Neal, of Affiliated Business Consultants. Neal is marketing the business for sale within a leased property as a going concern for an asking price of $439,000.

"This is a great opportunity for someone who has a passion for quality food, great coffee, good wine, and a desire to join in the local community," Neal says.

"Carriages Cafe & Wine Bar was established some 15 years ago and has become an iconic cafe known all over Auckland. It is a seven-day week, daytime cafe closing at 4pm.

Due to its high visibility on State Highway 16, drivers are naturally drawn to the cafe because of its eye-catching old world train carriages mounted on a large deck overlooking a picturesque little lake."

In keeping with the railway theme, the main building was designed on the basis of a typical train station of a bygone era and includes tasteful memorabilia within the cafe.

"Last year Carriages was sold and closed down for a period of five months, during which time the premises were completely gutted and $200,000 was spent on restoration and refurbishment," Neal says.

"The Humphreys re-established the business to its former glory, redesigning the cafe to establish a number of zones to meet the needs of the cafe's customer base."

Upon entering the "station", customers are tempted by cabinet food on the left and the wine bar on the right with a classic La Marzocco Espresso machine as its focal point.

Walking through the "station" to the "platform" the "passengers" proceed two old-world train carriages which have been maintained in their original form with a couple of additions to ensure they meet the needs of modern diners.

"One is a child-friendly area where children can play while their parents enjoy some adult company, not having to worry about where the kids have gone," Neal says. "The other is set up for quieter conversation. Beyond the carriages is a deck overlooking the lake inhabited by ducks and pukeko."

The main deck is enclosed with large French doors and heated with gas ensuring a cosy environment during the cold winter months.

"Since re-opening in December 2009, the turnover has averaged over $19,000 per week," Neal says.

"The business still has a way to go until it reaches the turnover of its past glory days but still has lots of opportunity for further development. Already the cafe has had success with several marketing strategies such as a takeaway menu with delivery to local businesses, school loyalty cards, donating a percentage of their purchases to the school and developing relationships with various bus tour groups that frequent the region."

Neal says Carriages Cafe has the support of the local community and on the weekend is a destination for many outdoor enthusiasts and for people out for a Sunday drive in the country.

Kumeu holds many public events at its showgrounds like the Classic Car & Hot Rod Show, now in its 16th year, The Kumeu Beer, Wine & Food Festival which has been held for eight years and Just Gardening at Kumeu now in its sixth year.

The Kumeu region is also home to many of New Zealand's most recognised wine labels which attract a steady flow of weekend "tasters" to the area and is the gateway to the West Coast with attractions like the gannet colony, Muriwai Links Golf Course and Woodhill Forest.

- NZ Herald

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