There's good news and more good news: Whanganui's beloved Cactus Creme Cafe is reopening and it will be the first tenant in the long-empty Victoria Retail Centre shops fronting Victoria Ave.
Cactus Creme, which is Whanganui's oldest existing cafe at 62 years, has new owners, Phearin and Sonita Keat. The cafe is set to reopen on October 9 in the CJ Efstratiou development in front of the Farmers store.
Other than the Farmers and Stevens shops on the St Hill St side of the complex, the multimillion-dollar Victoria Retail Centre development has been empty since it was completed in early 2015.
Mr and Mrs Keat are excited to finally have their lease sorted so they can be the first tenants on the Victoria Ave side.
"As our sign says, it will be more than just a cafe," Mr Keat said.
"We have kept the old menu from Cactus Creme but we'll have a focus on breakfast and also a lot more healthy food. We'll be making everything fresh on site."
The Keats are from Cambodia and plan to introduce a few Cambodian-style lunch specials.
"The new shop is modern but we have kept the Cactus Creme theme going with the cactus logo," Mr Keat said.
"We plan to make and sell the sort of food New Zealanders enjoy like sandwiches, cakes, pies and other baked goods. Former Cactus Creme customers will find all their old favourites here and, if they can't, they can let us know and we will see what we can do."
The Keats have employed some of the former Cactus Creme staff, including previous owner Srey Keo. They have also advertised for additional staff for their team of about eight and are currently shortlisting from more than 80 applications.
Before moving to Whanganui last year to set up in business together, the couple worked at the Bulls Bakery and Cafe where Mr Keat was the manager and Mrs Keat was front-of-house serving customers and making coffee. Mr Keat had previously spent four years as a baker in Marton.