James Bryant knows a thing or two about operating a café. He's the owner of Takapuna institution, Takapuna Beach Cafe, and the newly opened Piccolo, situated in the Department Store in Northcroft Street, the site that has recently become the Amaia Living (apartments) display suite. Although still a youngster, James has a history in hospitality and previously worked at Hip Group. He jumped at the chance to purchase the café from the group when the opportunity came up in 2019. 2020 has proven to be an interesting year for James and his team with Covid-19 requiring them to operate in new and innovative ways, and there has also been a full refurbishment of the café after a major flooding incident. James tells Channel Mag's Aidan Bennett about the importance of his team throughout this time, as well as their new venture Piccolo and expanding their presence in Takapuna.
AIDAN BENNETT: 2020 has been a different sort of a year for a new café operater. How’s it all been going?
JAMES BRYANT: It’s been a great experience. You know that each day is going to be different and it’s been awesome to have the support of my team at Takapuna Beach Café, and now Piccolo, along with the community and our regular customers.
AB: What was the biggest lesson for you in 2020 in terms of adapting to all the changes and challenges in hospitality?
JB: The biggest lesson is that you have to move fast because the environment is constantly changing, especially with all the Covid-19 regulations and supply chain constraints. You don't have time to adapt gradually.
AB: You’ve recently opened Piccolo in the Department Store space in Takapuna. Tell Channel readers what they can expect there...
JB: You can expect the same great food and experience of Takapuna Beach Cafe but at the other end of the beach. At Piccolo, we have honed in on the coffee and cabinet offerings and we’re excited to be part of the next chapter of The Department Store.
AB: Where do you get your culinary and creative inspiration from?
JB: The creative input comes from the great team working together behind the scenes.
AB: What do you like most about running the Beach Café and Piccolo?
JB: I get the most enjoyment from working alongside the team and having the support of the community and our amazing regulars. Of course the location is hard to beat too!
AB: What’s your favourite part about working in Takapuna?
JB: Every sunrise and sunset, no matter whether it's rainy or sunny.
AB: Anything new on the menu for Christmas and summer?
JB: We launched a new menu in late November with a number of lighter seasonal dishes ahead of the warmer weather to come. There will also be a new range of cakes, seasonal sorbets and Christmas treats. We might even have a special Christmas gelato up our sleeves!
AB: What’s next for you and the cafés?
JB: Our main focus for the coming year is continuing to grow our presence in Takapuna. We’ve also received a number of requests from customers for a wine offering and we’re exploring our options in terms of getting the right licensing. Watch this space.