Public outcry after council replaces Lower Hutt coffee truck with Mr Whippy
Coffee drinkers are frothing into their short blacks in Lower Hutt after the city council chose to replace the coffee truck at a popular park with a Mr Whippy franchise.
While the decision might prove popular with children playing at Avalon Park, it has not gone down well with their caffine-loving parents. Hundreds have now signed a petition to reverse the Hutt City Council decision.
Customers of the Bean Brewed 4 You mobile coffee truck – which was crowned the best coffee in Wellington in a radio competition earlier this year – have also been encouraged to contact the council by email.
A second operator selling chips and hot dogs near the playground has also been replaced by Mr Whippy.
Avalon Park recently reopened after a $3.7 million revamp of its playground, and further work is planned to make it a regional attraction. Bean Brewed 4 You has been operating there since 2012.
Owners Jan and Keith Webling said they were aware they had to put in a new tender, and that the council was looking to improve the range of food and drinks at Avalon Park as part of the upgrade.
Keith Webling said their enclosed truck cost $75,000 and the business had performed well.
Once their licence expired on December 1, they would relocate to a new site in the suburb of Naenae.
Anna Sutherland, who travels to Avalon from Kelson every day to get her coffee fix at Bean Brewed 4 You, was not happy about the council's decision.
She liked their 6am start and the big cups, and said her mornings would not be the same.
Hutt City Council parks manager Aaron Marsh said Mr Whippy was chosen because it put in the best tender and had a comprehensive menu, which went well beyond just icecreams and lollies.
The council was looking for outlets that provided a healthier range of food choices, and Mr Whippy met that criteria, Marsh said.
As well as serving icecream, it would also serve coffee, gourmet sandwiches and panini.
Mr Whippy had the added flexibility of also being able to service the newly opened playground, he said.
Its proposal included trading from both the Fairway Dr end of the park and from the playground area, which meant there was no room for another operator at the park.
The petition to retain Bean Brewed 4 You would not change the decision, Marsh said. "Concessions are a three-year gig and are not a forever gig."
It was "disappointing" that some members of the public, who had emailed the council in support of Bean Brewed 4 You, appeared to have been misinformed about the decision and the process followed by council.
Mr Whippy declined to comment.