I really enjoy the lifestyle that Whanganui has to offer and am a really big fan of the way in which we as a business community provide really great service and develop customer value.
I often find myself away from home and experience service which exceeds expectations and then I end up using that experience as a comparison for service with local businesses which I will deal with.
But every now and then I experience exceptional products and service in Whanganui and find myself compelled to write about it here.
The most recent is the Citadel Café in Castlecliff, which is under new ownership and going from strength to strength.
Malcolm and Roxi have taken a business which was gaining iconic status and moved it onto the next level.
The upgrade in experience is clearly tangible and enjoyable – from the improvements in décor, to their attention to service detail to their talented staff this is a venue which is well worth a visit.
I am reminded regularly by Junior Bell of the need for a high-quality burger restaurant in Whanganui and I have been happy to report that I have found it.
I had lunch there recently and picked one of the gourmet options available and, let's just say Samuel L Jackson's famous "that's a tasty burger" line simply does not do it justice.
It was my first time in a while visiting The Citadel but the menu has come with rave reviews from the all important "word of mouth" network.
It is from service like this that reputations are created and embedded.
This creates a buzz which has customers beating down your door to experience your products or services.
This is crucial to all the great hospitality venues, no matter where they are located.
I have written about some out of town experiences which were outstanding in this column in the past and the Citadel betters a number of these.
It feels like you are in one of those great beach cafes or restaurants and the owners have done a great job of creating and preserving that "vibe".
Oh, and the coffee is also as excellent as the food.
Further supplementing the offering here is the positioning of the business in the Castlecliff community hub.
I understand that the Citadel has carved itself into the fabric of the area and its "locals" nights are the stuff of legend.
It is great to see the seeds of regeneration sprouting out there and, it was also encouraging that there were lots of people out there – including visitors from parts of New Zealand and beyond.
Whanganui is starting to get a more positive reputation, thanks in part to businesses like the Citadel which create memorable and high-quality experiences which people take back to their homes and families.
What also needs to happen is that Whanganui people need to experience and support the businesses and owners as they contribute the strengthening fabric of a growing positive reputation.
The Citadel is one such business and (to quote Samuel L Jackson again) "... give them a try sometime".