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River Kitchen – From the plant to the plate, meet the staff who help us make it all happen

River Kitchen is one of Nelson’s hot destinations located next to the beautiful Maitai River. There’s an atmosphere of calm juxtaposed with happy conversations and serenity as bikers, and dog walkers wander along the waterfront footpath and gaze into the packed out cafe.

Owners Clare and Blue are no strangers to the hospitality game and began with the Milton Street Fish n chip shop decades ago. Now the River Kitchen is a flourishing business with a reputation many could easily envy.

Despite having the surrounding building wrapped with plastic coverings, it hasn’t deterred their customers. The offices next door are Nelson i-Site and Datacom have some building repairs that require them to be shrink-wrapped.

“We were concerned some may think that we were closed; however, we’ve seen no signs of things slowing down and have the cafe all set up with the appropriate spacing and ventilation. People are loving having a space to catch up with friends and enjoy some healthy locally grown food,” says Clare.

So, we asked Clare a question.

How does a cafe like this sustain having 17 staff when many others are struggling to stay open? Her response was quick.

“We couldn’t do this without the passion and energy of our staff. I just make the coffee, and they are amazing in their different roles, and genuinely love making sure everyone who comes in the door have a great experience. We can’t mention everyone in this article, as it would take all day to read, but here are a few to illustrate the variety of talent we get to work with every day, and you will see why we love our staff.”

Rebecca and Josh, Head Chef and Sous Chef respectively. They are passionate about the process of bringing food that was grown locally from the garden to the plate. Rebecca even has her own greenhouse that she grows edible flowers and heirloom produce. Josh loves it in the Kitchen and is born for this kind of role. He’s such a top bloke.

Kelly and Jasmin run the front of house. They also manage our event bookings and catering orders. Both are hard workers who manage even the busiest of days, with a smile and a can-do attitude. They have a big team of staff to lead and it’s been great to see them both grow and gain valuable skills.

Dan worked for us when he was just a school kid. He left to join the New Zealand Army and quickly rose through the ranks to be a Corporal. He trained as an ammunitions tech and served time in Iraq. He is calm, organised and loves making sure everyone has a good time and works in the front of house team. Soon he will be heading off to Uni to study for a Psychology degree. We wish him well, and there’s nothing he won’t be able to do because he has a great work ethic.

My husband Blue works as a front of house staff alongside both of our daughters Tegan and Freya, who work part-time. It’s a family business and when we need a break from it all, we love heading over to Golden Bay for some quality relaxation time.

“It’s a lot of commitment running a busy cafe like this, but we love what we do and there’s a great vibe that makes the day go fast. Bringing locally made products to the plate is something we are embracing, and it brings with it a very satisfying feeling knowing we are supporting our local growers.”

Make sure you visit the River Kitchen and enjoy the magic they bring to our sunny region.
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