A cafe with the aim of connecting the community through food has opened in Stratford.
The Bridge on Fenton opened two months ago in the former RSA restaurant, leased by MountainView Vineyard Church.
Corrina Sheed, wife of MountainView Vineyard Church pastor John Sheed, says the restaurant has been welcomed "graciously" by the community.
"People are very excited that we're in the RSA building as it's a long-established Stratford facility. We have people come in and share their stories from how they worked in the kitchen or other ways they were involved with the RSA when it was open. It's great to hear all those stories."
The cafe has paid staff assisted by church volunteers. Recipes for some of the food on offer are from families of the church.
Church volunteers spent the past year cleaning the building which had been closed since 2015.
"We're all very happy as it's been a long time coming. We're very pleased the cafe is open."
She says the aim of the cafe is affordable eating.
"People should be able to eat here for $10 a head. We're wanting to make it more accessible for people to eat out with their families. It's about providing a place people feel they can go to."
She says the cafe has a big focus on providing a space for people to get to know each other.
"It's around the table during a meal where you get to know someone. For us, this is where the sense of community comes from."
The cafe is currently open Tuesday to Saturdays. Corrina says once they're more established, they plan to change the hours and introduce "sharing around the table" dinner nights.
"The long-term goal is to hold themed nights such as dessert, pizza or date nights where they share their food around the table. Before we introduce it we want to be well established and make sure that is something the Stratford community want."
She says the church's aim is connecting the community.
"We're passionate about connecting the families of Stratford and this is another way we can do that."
■ The Bridge on Fenton is open Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-2pm.