Cafe back after two-year break

22:52, Dec 12 2013
James Perry
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: James Perry, new co-owner of Cable Bay Cafe in Cable Bay is open and ready for business.

Nelsonians Tracey and James Perry missed the Cable Bay Cafe so much they bought it. The couple re-opened the cosy vintage-themed cafe last week, nearly two years after the 2011 floods and the damage to the Cable Bay Rd resulted in it closing its doors.

James is a professional cookery tutor at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

Tracey works for ParaFed Canterbury, an organisation that runs sport and recreation for people with physical disabilities. It is based at Saxton Field.

The Perrys are experienced in the hospitality industry and met in Taupo 14 years ago when he was a chef at Huka Lodge and Tracey had a cafe there. They also owned a waterfront restaurant in James' home country of Bermuda.

James has worked as a chef in New Zealand, Europe and Bermuda.

This year he was made Master of Italian Cuisine at Academia Barilla in Parma Italy. He is the only chef in New Zealand to be awarded the qualification.


James says they had come to Cable Bay many times since the flood and missed the cafe. Buying the cafe had been on their mind for a long time "just because it is such a lovely location".

"It's such a perfect spot."

He will continue to work Monday to Wednesday at NMIT and over summer will workthe rest of the week at the cafe.

James says you can not beat Cable Bay, especially on quiet days, and he is enjoying the visiting birdlife which includes a resident weka and numerous tui.

"As soon as you come over the hill and see Delaware Bay, it's like being on a far away holiday, but you are only 20 minutes from town. It's perfect."

The cafe is a popular destination for cyclists.

He says former owner Kay Field had done a great job with the menu and they have kept it similar but simplified it.

He says the menu will feature local food and will change to reflect food that is season.

They plan to be open for four days to start and longer over the Christmas to February period.

The cafe will open from 9.30am to 4pm with a little flexibility. He hopes to be open into the evening on a couple of nights. James says he is enjoying the challenges of making less delicate cafe food.

Signs of his quirky sense of humour are sprinkled through the cafe, including a "bribery for children" sign on a biscuit jar.

"It's nice to be fun. The whole reason to do it is to be fun."

James says the cafe will be dog friendly and serve puppy-chinos and sell home made dog biscuits for patrons four-legged friends.

Getting staff has not been a problem. They had 150 to 180 applicants for the jobs and they had a great response from locals. One of the workers lives in the farm behind the cafe.

He says the residents have been fabulous at dropping in and checking out how the spruce up before opening was going, and there was a queue on opening day.

"The Cable Bay community is excellent. It's a really vibrant community."