Victory retailers think inside the square
Nelson’s Victory Square is having a growth spurt, helped by a Christchurch businessman who is relocating a remnant of a popular Sumner restaurant to the village, and who wants to reinstate a Post Shop and Kiwibank outlet in the area.
Sunny Singh Bal, who recently opened the Victory Discounter Dairy in a former produce shop has also taken on the lease of the former Randall's cafe and bar. He will soon open the Victory Liquor Centre in the premises after buying into the Liquor Centre franchise, followed by Indian Blues takeaway, based on the menu offered at his former Sumner restaurant destroyed in the 2011 earthquake.
Mr Bal also lost his Mt Pleasant house in the quake, and since then has been continuing to operate a collection of small businesses in and around Canterbury while gradually moving his interests north to Nelson.
He plans to eventually re-locate his young family here permanently.
His two businesses in Victory follow the recent opening of Just Kebab, owned by Yakup and Kirsty Kilinc, and the opening six months ago of the YMCA Cafe.
Mr Kilinc opened the Turkish kebab outlet on November 10. He and his "Scottish Kiwi wife" moved to Nelson 18 months ago, when Mr Kilinc took a job with Enza Foods as a general hand.
He had wanted to open a kebab takeaway business in central Nelson, but figured there were already too many.
"We live in the area and everything's close," he said.
Mr Kilinc, who hails from Turkey where he says the kebabs are quite different to here, says business is going well although he works about 10 hours a day and is open seven days a week. He hopes one day to open a chain of kebab outlets in Richmond and Motueka.
YMCA Cafe manager Hanan Powell said it has been proving popular with youth since opening about six months ago in the former Victory Gardens Cafe.
"When that closed the YMCA saw an opportunity to expand its presence. We have a very strong youth focus, and sought to freshen the place up," Mr Powell said.
The cafe is open from 8am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday and sells good basic fare at prices considerably lower than city cafes.
Mr Powell has a decade of experience in the food and hospitality industries. He started out washing dishes and progressed to become a barista and chef. He has worked in other parts of the world as a chef and barman.
"We've been here in Victory since June and in that time we've seen a lot of change here."
The opening of the Victory Discounter Dairy has trumped plans by another Christchurch businessman to buy the Valley Store in Vanguard St and convert it into a dairy.
Building owner Gaire Thompson confirmed recently the deal had fallen over, after thousands of dollars were spent by the prospective buyer on consents needed to operate the business in the premises.
Mr Bal, who has a masters degree in business and who has lived in many different countries since leaving his native Punjab in India, has targeted Victory Square for the past three years as place to expand his business interests, based on the huge residential area it served.
He hoped to have the the takeaway business operating in about three months' time, once the purpose-built kitchen facilities and consents were all done. He has also approached NZ Post about setting up a new outlet in his dairy, after the service was withdrawn from another Victory dairy earlier this year.
NZ Post said at the time the Post Shop was run under a franchise agreement and while it had chosen not to renew its contract with On the Spot dairy, it would seek an alternative operator in the Victory area.
Mr Bal said he was "pushing very hard" to get a post shop back.