As many of you know I am addicted to coffee and love to visit the places that deliver it with flair and flavour.
Whanganui is blessed with many great options in the city - Jolt, Yellow House, Mint and Blend all come to mind – but I have recently been spending a bit of time at the one venue that really has everything: great coffee, excellent food, and its own special place by the Awa. That is Mud Ducks.
I have known Tim Watson for a number of years; I remember talking to him way back in the days of Indigo (which preceded Mint) about his vision to own and operate his own business, and Mud Ducks is the embodiment of that.
And, today, it is a business that is a core part of the Whanganui hospitality fabric with a dedicated, highly supportive following.
I have one particular client with whom we have an understanding about where we will meet for a 'coffee meeting".
It is now so ingrained that we just text a time and meet each other in the carpark by the Tram Shed.
In fact, another client who regularly travels told me a while back that Mud Ducks is the best venue south of Taupo - high praise indeed.
So, how have Tim and the team achieved this? In my mind it comes from the vision that Tim has for where the business is and where it is going.
He has created a place where it is fun to be, and the staff reflect this.
And while I sensed this with each visit, I could not put my finger on what that X factor is – but Tim described it to me as "elevating our customers' day" and I thought "Aha!".
Because in that Tim has a formula for success and a great foundation to build upon.
Building on ideas they have seen in cafes both in New Zealand and overseas, the team establish and keep the fun vibe going, while doing that all-important thing of providing excellent customer service.
And the menu and cabinet options are both excellent and very popular too.
And this popularity was also evident after and during the 2020 lockdown, when the business reacted well to the changing alert levels and actually emerged stronger.
And that is a key quality of businesses that are truly resilient; and, like a number of their peers, Mud Ducks is continuing to "pivot" and build on the positive aspects of its offering.
And probably the most unique feature of the business is its positioning with a beautiful view of the Whanganui River, although the actual ducks do not tend to congregate close by.
In fact, in the summer, I regularly get a takeout and sit and watch the river go by.
And I am sure Tim and his team will continue to innovate and build on their excellent business model, and I will be there to enjoy the fun that comes with it (and so will the ducks).