29 July, 2020
Last orders called for treats at landmark cafe
The call for last doughnuts is coming round fast at Little & Friday’s original Belmont cafe. After 14 years trading in Eversleigh Rd, this Sunday (2 August) will be the last day of operation for the popular local landmark, which draws fans from across the city.
Owner Kim Evans, who was surprised when terms of a new lease at Eversleigh Rd could not be agreed, says: “It’s quite overwhelming.”
Not only is she shutting up shop, but moving from her home behind the cafe. “It’s the end of an era,” she says.
“People come in here every day, they’re like family. One little boy has been here every day of his life – he’s 10 now.”
Evans, who has a second family home on Waiheke, is staying positive, planning to squeeze a kitchen into her Newmarket cafe so she can carry on cooking from that site.
After 20 years on the peninsula, she is sad that, for now anyway, she won’t be catering to loyal cafe customers here. But she says everything has happened too quickly to find suitable local premises from which to run both a commercial kitchen and cafe.
“It’s not enough time for me to find some- where else locally, so I’m closing down.
“As hard as it is, I believe it’s time. I feel like the lockdown has done that for a lot of people,” she told the Devonport Flagstaff dur- ing packing.
Evans says her love of cooking is un- dimmed, but she will be focusing more on bakery items to go or from the counter, with fewer tables and no menu.
Of the 12 full-time staff at Belmont, some will transfer to Newmarket, but five will lose their jobs.
Evans says post-lockdown trading had been exceeding expectations. Both the Belmont and Newmarket cafes were busy, with only her third store on High St, Auckland, quieter, due to fewer people in the CBD.
With three successful cookbooks under her belt, and regular placements on top cafe lists, Little & Friday has kept Evans busy.
The need for a small commercial kitchen, rather than baking from home, is what led to her first move into the then tired and mostly empty block of old Eversleigh Rd shops.
She took on the middle store and chose her cafe’s name to reflect its small size and that it opened initially only on Fridays.
By four or five years ago, she had occupied all five stores in the strip. Real estate agents now use the cafe as a selling point when marketing homes nearby.
Before Little & Friday, Evans ran Ice It in Church St for six years, in the building that is now Five Loaves cafe.
Then a Titirangi resident, she came upon the “for lease” sign by accident when taking a wrong turn on a visit to Cheltenham Beach.
After a time in Christchurch, she returned north and briefly ran her business from premises on King Edward Pde. In the early days, she also sold her baking at Takapuna Market.
The move to Belmont sparked expansion and recognition.
Looking back, Evans thinks at times she tried to do too much. She pulled back on an experiment of selling evening meals and admits to looking at selling the business last year. She says she is now excited to reconfigure the “experience” at Newmarket.
She’s hoping loyal customers might cross the bridge from time to time to pick up a sweet or savoury treat.
“It’s been wonderful here, it’s been so fantas- tic – who would have thought when I opened that little shop it would have grown to this.”
Building owner Joe Martin says that since Evans tried to sell the business 18 months ago, it operated under a variety of short-term leases, the latest of which ended on 1 August.
“I would have been quite happy for her to carry on beyond that, but she only wanted to lease 40 per cent of the block, which didn’t work for us.”
As Little & Friday has grown over the years, the five units were converted into essentially one building. Martin says there are no plans to develop the building. He will be advertising for a tenant.
This article originally appeared in the 29 January 2021 edition of the Flagstaff. Read online here.
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