New cafe any­thing but a grind

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - COLIN WIL­LIAMS

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.’’

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