You know what? 2019 has been a pretty unique year in the Business Zen world – and this year's Business Zen, Business of the Year Award is no exception.
Because it's a tie!
I couldn't separate the two businesses in terms of the qualities which I believe are both exceptional and add incredible value to the local business community.
Both businesses will receive strategic planning assistance to the value of $500 from me in the New Year and congratulations to the other eight finalists (mentioned last week) this was not an easy decision.
The 2019 Business Zen Business (es) of the year are Citadel Café and The Lads Brewing Company.
Both businesses featured in articles this year and both have an X Factor which sets them apart and signals a bright future.
While I am extolling their virtues I really want readers to support them and other local businesses. It's tough out there but there are fantastic people in fantastic businesses achieving fantastic things.
So, what sets these two businesses apart?
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The Citadel Cafe
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Is it rude to mispronunciate a word in a language you're not familiar with?
In the case of the Citadel, it is really quite easy to understand – this is a community hub, and more! Right now as I type this article, I am seriously contemplating going out there for a coffee and one of their outstanding signature burgers.
The quality of their food and more importantly the welcoming service has vaulted this venue to the top of my list.
Before Malcolm and Roxi transformed the Citadel, venturing to Castlecliff wasn't really on our family radar – now, it is one of the first places that we think about when looking to dine out.
Add to that, their social media presence is excellent and really accentuates their culture, offering and builds on their already valued position in the rejuvenation of Castlecliff. But it goes beyond that into community support and outreach – kudos for the recent sharing of their time and expertise with Rutherford Junior High students, a fantastic example of giving back.
It is an absolute asset for Whanganui to have a high quality beachside café/restaurant and the fact that they are bustling with customers and visitors is a real testament to this.
A recent conversation with a visitor from the UK highlighted just how special this gem really is – congratulations to Malcolm, Roxi and Hunter.
The Lads Brewing Company
Our second winner is the Lads Brewing Company.
I met the Lads through local football personality and Everton superfan Paul Maguire. While Paul's taste in football teams leaves something to be desired, when he endorses a beer you need to listen and the Lads products are no exception (particularly the unique Hula Girl brew).
The beers showcase a business with innovation and drive at its heart.
Timoti, Haami, Andrew and Adam have, I believe, captured lightning in a bottle and have the one thing that many businesses strive for years to create – a compelling story.
It is more than simply four mates with a passion for beer, it is passion underpinned by entrepreneurial spirit and determination to build something truly special. It was pleasing that they were successful in being awarded the Māori Rising Star Award for best new and emerging Māori enterprise (at this year's Te Manu Atatu Awards).
Like the Citadel, the Lads also have their community at heart together with a growing reputation. It was really great to see the Lads logo in the fridge at Lucky Bar last Friday night and it won't be long, I believe, before their brand and reputation is nationwide.
They are also to be congratulated for moving to the next phase of their development by installing a dedicated brewing unit at premises in town - as they move towards higher volume with the same high quality taste and satisfaction.
So there you have it, two rising stars on our business horizon. As we approach 2020, I really encourage you to seek these businesses out and sample the amazing quality and value they have to offer.
Next week will be my final article for 2019 and it will be about a special subject matter for the lead-in to Christmas.
In the meantime congratulations again to the Citadel Café and the Lads Brewing Company – the 2019 Business Zen Businesses of the Year!