Fitzgerald Glade Cafe rebrands

FRESH START: The  Fitzgerald Glade Cafe will have extended hours and services to attract locals and tourists. 
FRESH START: The Fitzgerald Glade Cafe will have extended hours and services to attract locals and tourists. 

Fitzgerald Glade Cafe has a new owner and a new name.

David Walter took over the cafe, located on State Highway 5 between Tirau and Rotorua, late last month.

"It's an icon since the early 60s and I just saw it as potential," said Walter.

The main sign has already been changed - soon to be followed by the remaining signage - to read "The Glade Roadhouse Cafe and Store" outlined in orange and black.

"The whole place is getting a facelift," said Walter.

The first step was tidying up the on-site residence so Walter could move in, starting with clearing trees and vines away from the windows.

"That's really helped, even in winter, getting more light in," he said. "It was pretty grotty, to be honest."

The decor, menu, hours and stock are all in for an overhaul as well.

"I don't want to lose completely the iconic feel, but we will be modernising it."

The Glade will be a roadhouse-cum-general store, supplying everything from coffee, a toilet stop and wi-fi for travellers, to toothpaste and general supplies for locals.

"I want to extend the hours, and we'll be doing a takeaway menu as well," Walter said. "We are also changing our coffee, which is so important these days. Our new coffee is Vivace Coffee from Christchurch, rather than an imported Australian coffee."

The cafe now boasts a children's area with toys, and new beanbags and couches for customers to relax on.

Walter is also looking at developing the outdoor area to entertain children and tourists.

"I've got 43 chickens and a couple of goats," he said. "We're looking at mini kunekune pigs and maybe an alpaca or something as well."

Walter has been working hospitality all his life, in restaurants and accommodation in places such as Australia, Auckland and the Bay of Islands.

His last business was the Ballinor Motor Inn in Ulster St, Hamilton.

Opening hours at The Glade are being adjusted as the nature of the business changes, but Walter said the practice of closing early on quiet days was in the past, and the store would be open seven days a week.