New cafe anything but a grind
The arrival of the city’s newest coffee house can be put down to the November earthquake.
Grind Coffee Lounge owner-operator Char McNaughton has come to Upper Hutt after losing her job as the manager of The Boulevard Kitchen, a ground floor public cafe in Statistics House on the capital’s waterfront.
A Pinehaven resident, she had been harbouring the ambition of setting up her first solo business in her adopted home.
But that became option number one after the Statistics building was damaged and closed following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on November 14.
‘‘I’d always planned to go out on my own but the earthquake focussed my head a little bit for sure.’’
She has been in business partnerships before, including in her hometown Nelson, but is excited to be striking out with a cafe on her own.
McNaughton describes Grind, in Princes St, as ‘‘a coffee cart without wheels’’. It is small and inviting and fitted with a ‘‘street’’ look.
‘‘I wanted a different look, something alternative I guess.’’
She has been encouraged by the response of locals in her opening couple of weeks.
‘‘It’s going well. People are coming in through the door, even if it’s only to have a look. I’ve already got some regulars and I’m seeing a wide range of people, young and old. I love talking to people and I want everyone feeling comfortable being here. Upper Hutt is definitely where I want to be.
‘‘It is a beautiful place and really it’s so underrated. It’s good to get back to a city cafe too. It’s nice to meet all types of people.’’
Grind will be a one-person operation, opening seven days a week from 6am.
‘‘I’m a workaholic,’’ McNaughton said. ‘‘You sort of have to be if you’re in the hospitality industry but I’m hoping after the first six months that I’ll be able to employ someone.’’