Going local

An Aro Val­ley res­tau­rant en­gages local artists

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Rita is a new restau­rant in a for­mer worker’s cot­tage in Aro Val­ley, Welling­ton. You might be fa­mil­iar with its own­ers – Paul Schrader, Matt Hawkes and Kelda Hains are be­hind Nikau Cafe, which they opened in 1998 in City Gallery Welling­ton. Nikau is a day­time cafe; Rita is a night­time restau­rant. The lat­ter seats 30 and of­fers a set menu for $65 (salt-roasted beet­root, say, fol­lowed by Long­bush pork, broth, dumplings and wa­ter­cress, fol­lowed by a ki­wifruit and olive-oil sor­bet). There are two sit­tings, one at 5.30pm and one from 7.30pm. “Even in a two-hour bracket you can have quite a story or a nar­ra­tive,” says Schrader of the ap­proach. “It’s quite hard to cre­ate that or­der­ing off a menu.” The trio had their eye on the house – built in 1910 – for a few years, so when it came on the mar­ket last year, they bought it, and Schrader’s wife Mary Daish set about a lovely re­design, fo­cused around an

Top Rita’s din­ing room in the 1910 worker’s cot­tage.

Above Sig­nage by Gary Ste­wart of The Gas Project.

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