From horse float to cafe
In just 18 months West Aucklander Anabelle McCusker has turned a horse float into a pop-up cafe – with a loyal following.
At first the cafe was just to earn extra cash over the summer.
But last year, after quitting a decade-long teaching career, McCusker decided to turn her mobile business, Melt, into her fulltime job.
McCusker and her husband Scott borrowed money from family to start the business.
The McCuskers are selfconfessed foodies and wanted to serve up cheap and healthy food to their neighbourhood.
The pair serve up real fruit ice creams made from berries, feijoas and figs sourced from neighbours and nearby orchards.
McCusker is also a potter and displays and sells her mugs and tea cups at Melt.
‘‘It wasn’t planned but the cafe has helped get my pottery out there.’’
But switching careers and deciding to open up a cafe is not all rosy, she says.
‘‘We don’t just turn up and turn on a switch. It’s a physical job, it looks really simple when you’re standing there making someone a coffee. But because it’s the trailer, we have to move it in and out every day.
‘‘Running your own business is hard. But it’s really good learning.’’
Although Melt has its regular customers, McCusker says, the past few months have been rough for the business.
‘‘We’re doing all right now, but I got worried over winter because spending dropped off a bit. But I spoke to neighbouring businesses who have been running for years and they said it was normal and everyone feels it.’’
McCusker says if the product is no good, no amount of advertising or marketing will help.
‘‘Word of mouth is our biggest tool. People come to us not only because our coffee is really good but because of the community aspect.
‘‘We’re in an iconic spot parked outside a 1940s orchard and vineyard, a landmark feature of Swanson.
‘‘It’s friendly. People talk to each other when they’re waiting in line, it would be unusual for customers not to interact.’’
What makes their coffee so good?
McCusker believes it’s the locally roasted velvet bean coffee they use from the suburb over, Henderson. The blend is organic and fair trade.
Serving the community is a big deal to McCusker, who has lived in the area for more than 15 years.
‘‘We might not get the same traffic we could in town, but I think if we left there would be a gap for Swanson.’’
On sunny days sheep and hens on the farm entertain customers waiting in line.
Melt also sells honey harvested by Bees Up Top, another West Auckland based company that rehomes beehives from exterminators and maintains the hives for their customers.
Melt cafe is parked outside a residential property. The owner welcomes the bustle the business brings to the area.
‘‘We’ve got the generosity and support of our community behind us and we want to offer something back.’’
McCusker says the next 12 months look promising, and she’s looking forward to a summer spike in sales.
‘‘Running your own business is hard. But it’s really good learning.’’ Anabelle McCusker
Self-confessed foodies Anabelle and Scott McCusker borrowed money from family and took a punt on a mobile cafe.