New cafe brings German flair to Eyebright
In early 2011 Karsten Rentsch and his wife Sylvia had their bags packed for New Zealand and their visas confirmed for settling in Christchurch from their native Germany when their hopes were dashed by the earthquake.
Plans for shifting from Frankfurt was too far down the track to stop, so they left anyway, and arrived to a heartbroken city.
A few months further on and they decided to move north to Nelson. They have finally found their niche and are the name behind a new cafe which opened in lower Richmond last night.
Karsten's Cafe at Eyebright is the latest strand to the long-established country and Christmas store in McShane Rd, and features coffees and cakes with a distinct German flair.
Mr Rentsch handles the day to day management of the cafe they have set up in a portion of the Eyebright building. Mrs Rentsch bakes grand looking gateaux, and a traditional "flammkuchen" savoury tart.
Mr Rentsch once ran a small delicatessen/restaurant in Frankfurt, having moved into the hospitality industry from a family business in home appliances. After the move to Christchurch, where they aimed to set up a restaurant but realised it would not happen soon, they began searching for a new place to live. They had to apply to renew their visas so they could settle elsewhere, and Nelson became home.
"I have been working in customer service since I was 15. For us, the move to New Zealand was because of the people, and the climate. We had also looked at Australia.
"We had hoped to open a restaurant in New Brighton, then thought about Sumner because there was no CBD in Christchurch. We had done a lot of research online about Christchurch, which we liked for its history. It's hard to describe how we felt when we heard what had happened in Christchurch."
Mr Rentsch said the drive from the airport to Sumner was sobering.
"We were thinking, ‘oh gosh', there was a lot of damage and a lot of work ahead, but also possibilities for a future."
After they moved to Nelson they set up Bridge St cafe Good and Tasty, but recently closed it.
"The opportunity came up in March this year, after we came to a farmers' market and decided to use this room which was being used as storage at the time."
The cafe is open from 10am to 4pm seven days a week.