Some new faces have been added to Central Hawke's Bay's café and hospitality scene over the Christmas-New Year period, with more poised to join them.
Matt Sissons took over Espresso Loco café at Waipukurau Train Station from former owner and cafe creator, Ness Cotterill, on December 19.
Originally from Palmerston North, the 25-year-old has taken over the business after nearly six years working as a barista in various establishments in Melbourne's trendy inner-city suburb of South Yarra, which is noted for its cafes and bistro culture.
But the new cafe owner is no stranger to the district, having spent most of his summers in CHB at the family bach at Kairakau - which was how he discovered the business was for sale.
"Dad's always coming past and long been a regular customer of the café, and it was Ness who mentioned the cafe was up for sale.
"I was looking to come back anyway and settle down and enjoy a slower lifestyle, so it all went from there."
Mr Sissons said local coffee lovers had been "really welcoming" and he was being careful not to make any major changes early on.
"We've still got the same lady making all the cakes - everybody loves them!" he said.
Gastro pub opens
There are more new faces at CHB's first gastro bar, The Copperpot, which opened on Northumberland St in Waipukurau inside the old Farrier's Arms on Christmas Eve.
Kim Geerinckx, one of the two managers at The Copperpot along with Anya Epplett, said plenty of locals and visitors had been in to check out the new establishment since it opened.
"From what I have heard town was a little quiet over the holidays with people out of town or out at the beach. But we'd only been open for a week and our first Friday and Saturday was really good. We were full for lunch both days, so it is going really well."
A visiting couple staying at a nearby hotel had visited the gastro bar four days in a row, she said, and early reviews on social media from customers had also been very positive.
"We have had really good reviews on Facebook. People are loving the food and the atmosphere."
So far there had only been a bar menu available at The Copperpot but Ms Geerinckx said a full menu was due to be launched by the middle of this month.
"We are working on that right now. We want to make sure everything is freshly prepared, so it's just taking a little time."
New burger joint
Plans have been lodged to convert an old shipping container into a licensed burger bar along Ruataniwha St in Waipukurau.
Gareth Pearce has applied for resource consent and a liquor licence to establish the eatery on a vacant section between Ruahine Motors and Postie Plus using a yellow 40ft (12m) shipping container.
He said the kowhai-coloured container would match the crusher dust he intended to put down for a seated outdoor eating area, which would be large enough for up to 60 customers to consume food and alcohol.
He had also been required to lodge an "Urban Design Assessment" and hoped to get the go-ahead from CHB District Council as early as this week.
"With some beautification work and tree-planting, it should make for a vibrant, energetic, metro-style eating place," he said.