Zomer is a true local eatery; a café that welcomes locals like friends, as well as catering to the many visitors attracted by the proximity of Takapuna beach.
Manager Saul Stevens says not only is Zomer owned by Takapuna locals, it is also staffed entirely by people who live locally.
Better still, it has a philosophy of returning 70% of profits to the staff, paid as a three-monthly bonus. “We’re not in a position to pay the living wage,” says Saul, “but we can do this.” As he points out, those extra dollars go back into the community in one way or another – and it means Zomer attracts and keeps a high calibre team.
Juan Arranz, from Chile, is assistant manager. He’s “charismatic, loud and the star of service,” says Saul. He’s been a barista for the last decade, so he’s in charge of coffee. He works with Zomer’s suppliers to ensure it gets the right product, and trains new baristas. Varun Mehta is head chef, and the creative force behind Zomer’s menu; Saul recommends everyone tries the Zomer twist on eggs bene – with chilli cheese muffin developed by Varun. He’s backed up by sous-chef Anand Sunny, ex-Deep Creek in Browns Bay, whose most recent invention for Zomer is the very popular pulled pork tacos.
Sophie Tronito from Argentina adds to Juan’s Latin-American (and Spanish-speaking) pull. She’s the baker and makes all Zomer’s cabinet food from scratch. “She does a fantastic job,” says Saul. Her signature dishes are alfajores (Argentinean biscuits) and empanadas – corn and cheese the day Channel magazine called in, but you might find chicken and roast vegetables, or pulled pork on other days.
Backed up by the rest of the team, they welcome regular customers by name – and often serve their preferred coffee or food without needing an order, further reinforcing Zomer’s “local” identity, as does the free delivery of lunches, morning teas or even coffees (– minimum order of 10) to local businesses.
The menu changes monthly, meaning Zomer always uses fresh seasonal produce. Subject to produce availability, popular favourites remain: the eggs benedict, smashed avocado (Saul’s locked in supply until at least March), and marinated halloumi, to name a few.
Zomer is not an all-day eatery but there are plans to extend hours as summer approaches for relaxed after-work drinks and tapas. Daily take-away specials (separate from the café menu, and including pastas, stir-fries or curries) are available if you don’t feel like cooking dinner at home. Just ask what’s available on the day. Zomer can handle the catering for business or private functions, with corporate morning tea or lunch menus available, or the option of working with Saul to develop a menu to suit your needs.
Alternatively, you might prefer to hire the space for a function. Zomer is fully licensed (not BYO) and available any night of the week from 3pm. Saul and his team have designed three-course dining, buffet or finger food menus for up to 60 people (the venue’s capacity), or they can design a menu to suit your function and guests. A few dates are still available for corporate Christmas functions, and Saul says it’s proven to be a great space for significant birthdays, engagements and weddings. For such special occasions he meets the client up to four or five times to tailor the menu, drinks and décor to suit. Or you can take over the space and provide your own decorations.
Saul is enthusiastic about Zomer’s coffee, food, service - and place in the Takapuna hospitality scene. Next step in cementing Zomer’s identity as “a friendly local eatery” is the creation of a “community wall” inside the café. That will change and develop as he and others contribute to it – just watch that space.
Zomer, 4 The Strand, Takapuna 09 488 7594 zomer.co.nz
Open 7am weekdays, 8am weekends; closing at 3pm