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Cafe owner set to roll last waffle as lease expires

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 04/06/2013

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After 24 years in business, Southland man Jim Scarlett is reluctantly shutting up his Esk St shop in Invercargill.

The owner of the New Zealand Natural Cafe said the lease for his unit finished later this month and the landlord had plans for redevelopment.

"I would like to have made it 25 years but it's just time to go now. I suppose it is time for a change. Although I don't know how long I will retire for," he said.

Mr Scarlett is probably better known for sitting in his shop window, head crowned with a straw hat and making waffles.

He believed his old Australian waffle-making machine was one of only a few in the country.

Daily his loyal lunch customers patiently line up in the shop to order a kebab or icecream.

"It has been said I was the legend of lunch but now I am going to be the history of people's lunch," he said.

Like other businesses in the city, he had found the past few years hard but it was still going strong.

He had mixed feelings about giving up his shop, which had become a big part of his life, but his wife, Isabella, had plans for him.

"I have a long list of 24 years worth of maintenance to catch up on," he said.

It was painfully hard to say goodbye to his employee of nine years, Margaret McKinlay, but he was happy she had secured a new job across the street in a shoe shop.

"I enjoy what I do but it is probably good that I am leaving while I am on top," he said.

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- The Southland Times

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