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Launch leaves good taste despite slice of stress

Flagstaff Team

Baptism of fire… Business owner Jeremy Medlin (above, with worker Emily Handysides) was about to open his new pizza restaurant when lockdown began. Against the odds, he got Calimero up and running for Alert Level 3.

Staff at a new Devonport pizzeria had to hit the ground running with only the briefest of orientations after its launch was caught up in lockdown.

“They were fantastic,” Calimero owner Jeremy Medlin told the Flagstaff.

Among his staff were two local lads who had worked for the previous Victoria Rd tenants, Delissimos. Their inside knowledge proved invaluable.

The sudden imposition of Auckland’s Alert Level 4 came “at the worst possible time” for Medlin – just weeks after he took up the lease and before renovations had finished and training for new staff had begun.

To make up for lost trade, he then faced the challenge of pulling off his opening on the first day of the drop to Alert Level 3.

It was a case, he says, of “here’s the oven, here’s the door to the toilet” in what was a mere 20-minute rundown before the small crew began grappling with orders.

There were a fair few of those, as locals desperate for takeaways gave the new place a go.

“It went really well,” says Medlin, who has been buoyed by ongoing customer support since then.

For Medlin – who bought a long- established St Heliers pizzeria in 2019 and opened another in Sandringham last year – Devonport was a destination with demographics that added up.

Bringing his third outlet here may not have been easy, but it has been encouraging.

Aside from a glitch he was sorry for last week when an unexpected surge of orders on Tuesday evening caused delays, things have run pretty smoothly.

Help from his city-side staff got the store going with its own dough and sauces.

A delivery service is being set up and a few extra local staff have already been taken on. One of them is university student Emily Handysides who was training when the Flagstaff looked in last week. Conveniently she lives just a street away.

Medlin is also hands on, getting to know the area and dealing with deliveries while trying to predict the vagaries of trading through the levels.

While he may have had a tough start, he’s positive, saying there’s never a perfect time to start a business.

“I tell the guys the product is half the pizza and half the service.”

The Devonport Flagstaff can be downloaded online here.

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