For the last four years Mark and Marlane Elley have delighted in creating the perfect community hub at the Little and Local Coffee Kitchen in Snells Beach.
So when the Chairs restaurant came up for sale – virtually next door – it seemed like a good opportunity to expand and complement the café with an added bar and bistro.
Friends Yvette and Steve Barnett were eager to join the venture, and the partners were not about to let the gloom surrounding Covid-19 hold them back.
“A lot of things can slow you down in life, and you find reasons not to do things,” Mark says, “but sometimes you just need to keep moving forward.”
The partners took over Chairs in September, figured out what was working well and what needed to change, and then embarked on a radical remodel that is both classy and welcoming.
The brightly lit area behind the bar represents daytime and is taken up with a huge wine rack where attention has been paid to the way the light is coloured as it filters through the bottles. Away from the bar, the lighting is more subdued and the atmosphere warm and cosy, more reminiscent of night time.
Mark says the bistro retains favourites from the Chairs menu – notably the steak and mussel fritters – but now also features an extensive range of dishes put together by Little & Local chef Gareth Adams.
Brunch is served every day from 8am, and dinner is now served five nights a week with a la carte dining on Friday and Saturday, and themed nights on Wednesday (curry), Thursday (Italian) and Sunday (roast).
Mark says the response from local customers so far has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic with many appreciating the fact that they don’t have to head out to Matakana or Warkworth to appreciate some great food.
“A lot of people have said the bistro has really lifted things in Snells Beach,” he says.