It’s a local cafe icon located right in the heart of the city. Next to the walking track that sweeps past the Maitai River and just around the corner from the Nelson Visitor Centre. River Kitchen is owned and operated by Clare and Blue Fleming. They met in St Ives in Cornwall, UK where Blue was running the Cornish Bakehouse.
In 2006 they decided to have an adventure and move here for 2 years when their kids were little and they never left. Time flies when you’re having fun! They previously owned and ran the worldfamous Milton Street Fish n Chip shop for 5 years before buying the River Kitchen in 2013.
It’s obvious they have a huge passion for all things food and they love people. You can hear Blue’s laughter as he banters with happy customers. They have both worked in the hospitality sector since they left school.
“One of the things I love about being in Hospitality is that you can travel around the world and meet interesting people. We feel like we have been embraced into the Nelson culture and have gotten to know so many people here through the River Kitchen. It’s certainly been a lot of work, but we get feedback from our customers and adjust to their needs. It’s an ongoing evolutionary process. We love sourcing local food growers and often shop at the Nelson Markets,” says Clare.
When you go to the River Kitchen you will see it’s always a hive of activity. This requires a large team and they currently employ 15 staff and it climbs to 25 in the summer months.
“Our staff loved it when the All Blacks team came in for lunch. We have the local Mako team here most days after training which is neat to see. Hospitality is a lifestyle, sometimes you work antisocial hours but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.” says Clare.
Check out their website and view mouth-watering menus and pics of their food offerings. Success in this industry is so much more than just providing great food, it’s about the experience you offer and how you make people feel… we suggest you go check it out for yourself.