As part of a series highlighting the businesses entered in this year's Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, Juliet Partington talks to Sophie Preece about how a lifelong love of creating great food led to the creation of a great cafe.
When Juliet Partington draws up blackboard specials at Watery Mouth Cafe, she's familiar with the feel of chalk on her fingers.
That's not the only moment her past teaching food technology at Marlborough Girl's College comes to the fore.
"This has been a huge learning curve, but I do believe my teaching background, building relationships, has been powerful," she says of the past 18 months, learning the ropes as a cafe owner and operator.
Her previous career has stood her in good stead, creating a strong team of staff, but also creating a bond with businesses around the Seymour Square cafe, which are increasingly using it for meetings.
Ms Partington said her original vision for Watery Mouth, which was named six years before she found the location, based on a lifelong passion for food, has evolved to meet the market.
"It seems to be growing into more of a business meeting place, partly because of its central location, and partly because of the quiet upstairs area. It's unique."
The learning curve has been "energising and exciting" and she is determined to keep on critiquing and improving her cafe, holding regular brainstorming meetings, armed with Blu-tack to cover the wall with ideas.
"I am always re-evaluating costings and looking for innovative ways to market the business."
That includes a "scone day" where a scone with jam and cream is just $1 with a coffee.
Another initiative involves informing nearby businesses of the muffin flavours and soup of the day, to whet their appetites.
Her desire to constantly improve, and also to be recognised for 18 months of hard work, led her to enter this year's Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.
"The process is valuable and it's leading me to think about different areas of my business, like the mission statement. I'm getting out of it as much as I possibly can."
The winners of the Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards will be announced at the Gala Dinner on November 16.
- The Marlborough Express