Aotea cafe proving a hit
Charlie’s Cafe in Aotea is a family affair for owner Hayden Ayrton.
In only its third week of operation, the cafe in Aotea Dr is the first in the suburb.
It will eventually be joined in the same precinct by a beauty salon – owned and managed by Hayden’s partner Cherie – a takeaway store and a dairy or superette.
Mr Ayrton, originally from Wainuiomata and now living in Aotea, said that when the opportunity arose to open a cafe, he jumped in with both feet.
‘‘We did our homework and a big letterdrop to let local people know we were coming. So far, in just a few days, the feedback has been great – it’s been surprising how busy we are. The community here has really got behind us.’’
With a 7-month-old daughter, the long hours are not ideal. A trained chef, Mr Ayrton is doing the food preparation himself.
Family members largely make up the staff, but he said he hoped to expand eventually, giving Porirua residents jobs.
Charlie’s – named for his daughter, Charlie-Rose – is open from 7am till 4pm, Monday till Friday and 9am till 4pm on weekends.
There are breakfast, lunch and children’s menus and Mr Ayrton is already receiving feedback about staying open later, getting a liquor licence and expanding the cabinet food offerings.
‘‘It will take time to get established and hear what people want, but I’m really happy to listen. We’re just going to ease in for now.’’
Aotea neighbourhood support co-ordinator Maureen Weinstein said she was thrilled with the new set of shops.
She said it had taken 18 months to get to this point after a previous development proposal fell through.
‘‘Aotea continues to grow and this [cafe] is a way of bringing people together. It looks lovely and it’s in the right place.
‘‘At the moment we have to go to Aotea Lodge or Porirua for a coffee, so getting a set of shops is a big thing for us.’’
Family business: Cafe owners Hayden Ayrton and Cherie Hughes and their daughter Charlie-Rose have been welcomed to Aotea by a constant flow of customers.