T.O.A.D Hall - the evo­lu­tion of a cafe

Nelson Mail - - LEISURE - NEIL HODG­SON Taste Of Nel­son

Last week I wrote about Martin Town­shend and his new brew­ery next to T.O.A.D. Hall Store and Cafe´ and this week I took a few steps across the shiny new deck be­tween the brew­ery and cafe´ so I could sit down and chat with Ange Mor­ris over a cof­fee.

Ange has owned T.O.A.D. Hall with her hus­band Hamish Fletcher (not the le­gal bea­gle one) since 2007 and has turned it into a very pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion.

As well as now hav­ing a brew­ery be­side the cafe´ they are about to open the Tap Room, a place you can buy lo­cal wines and Town­shend Brew­ery beers to take home with you.

Be­fore we get fur­ther into the fu­ture of T.O.A.D. Hall let’s look at the his­tory and the name. The old hall that ev­ery­thing else is built around was the orig­i­nal school house in Motueka in the 1850’s and has been moved four or five times in its life. ‘‘From be­ing a school house we be­lieve it be­came a Sal­va­tion Army hall be­fore it was pur­chased by St Thomas’s Church and then moved to this site where we un­der­stand it was orig­i­nally go­ing to be an art gallery,’’ ac­cord­ing to Ange.

‘‘It was moved by mar­ket gar­den­ers so it be­came a fruit and vege stall in­stead with the name T.O.A.D Hall com­ing from The Old Angli­can Dioce­san Hall.

‘‘When we bought the busi­ness we bought a fruit and vege shop that sold ice creams and had a cof­fee ma­chine no one knew how to use. We started sell­ing cof­fee then that sum­mer de­cided we should sell cakes to go with the cof­fee; par­ents bought ice cream for the kids while they had cof­fee and cake, that is where the cafe´ mo­men­tum started and it has just ex­ploded since then.’’

So what back­ground did the cou­ple bring to T.O.A.D Hall that has en­abled them to make it such a suc­cess? Not hos­pi­tal­ity as you might ex­pect.

Ange and Hamish ran a wood­work­ing busi­ness in Christchurch that made tra­di­tional style wooden toys and fur­ni­ture for child care cen­tres, they used to fre­quent T.O.A.D Hall with their four kids to buy ice creams when they were on hol­i­day. On one visit the owner told them they were go­ing to sell ‘‘and for some rea­son we thought it would be a good idea to buy it. If you ask the kids they will tell you it is the worst idea, we went from hav­ing a nice re­laxed life­style to work­ing every day in a new hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness.’’

The cou­ple had es­tab­lished the wooden toy and fur­ni­ture busi­ness from scratch. ‘‘I went to buy wooden toys and swings for my kids and couldn’t find any so I went to poly­tech to learn wood­work­ing. I ended up sell­ing them to neigh­bours and the busi­ness nat­u­rally grew from there,’’ al­low­ing both Hamish and Ange to work full­time in it while rais­ing their young fam­ily.

They ran the wood­work­ing busi­ness from 1997 un­til 2007 when they bought T.O.A.D Hall.

The pre­vi­ous busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with wood lead to them mak­ing all of the out­door fur­ni­ture at T.O.A.D Hall, ‘‘it is the clas­sic kiwi at­ti­tude of we need this so let’s make it. We went from kids fur­ni­ture to big peo­ple’s fur­ni­ture for the cafe´ and you will still see the boys tin­ker­ing away in the work­shop out the back of T.O.A.D. Hall.’’

It also meant the cou­ple could work with other lo­cal busi­nesses, ‘‘we have some land out the back so an ar­borist drops off logs, they sea­son in the sun and then we have them milled and he gets half of the wood, we make fur­ni­ture and other stuff with our share.’’

The busi­ness has grown to the stage where Ange says they used to do ev­ery­thing them­selves but now oc­ca­sion­ally need to bring in spe­cial­ists for dif­fer­ent projects be­cause they just don’t have time.

She say run­ning the busi­ness ‘‘is like con­duct­ing an orches­tra. We went from one part-time em­ployee when we pur­chased the busi­ness 10 years ago, to about 55 full­time last sum­mer and prob­a­bly 60 this sum­mer.

For cen­turies the space that is now T.O.A.D Hall has also had a pub­lic func­tion as a meet­ing place for the com­mu­nity to get to­gether. ‘‘I un­der­stand the cur­rent site was a meet­ing place when the wakas used to come in and goods were traded and now we have lots of peo­ple who use the cafe´ as a meet­ing place, from mums and kids to busi­ness peo­ple look­ing for some space out of the of­fice.’’

From the orig­i­nal hall Ange and Hamish have ex­tended the court­yard, paved it, added a deck area and now a brew­ery.

‘‘Martin has built his new brew­ery and we love hav­ing him there, he is do­ing his thing we are do­ing our thing and we have a nice sunny court­yard be­tween the busi­nesses.’’

But even as the busi­ness has grown over the years Ange recog­nises that a big part of the rich­ness of what they have to of­fer is the crew.

‘‘Some of our staff worked part­time when they were at school and now work full­time. They are mak­ing hos­pi­tal­ity a ca­reer, not just some­thing to do. They are re­ally pas­sion­ate about the place and what we do. Some have been work­ing here for most of the time we have owned it.

‘‘They are as much a part of the busi­ness and vi­sion as we are. Some now have fam­i­lies of their own. Many lo­cal kids from within the Motueka com­mu­nity have worked here through­out the years gain­ing con­fi­dence and skills to take with them as they go out into the work­ing world.’’

Ange told me ev­ery­thing that the crew at TOAD Hall does has to be in keep­ing with the vi­sion she and Hamish have – that they are sup­port­ing their peo­ple, their com­mu­nity and their planet in a sus­tain­able way.

T.O.A.D Hall is still evolv­ing and grow­ing, adding to the rich­ness of the vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence in this won­der­ful re­gion as well as be­ing an im­por­tant part of the com­mu­nity in Motueka.


Ange Mor­ris of T.O.A.D. Hall in Motueka - fur­ni­ture maker turned cafe owner.

T.O.A.D. Hall was once a school house.

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