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River Kitchen – Coming up 10 years of serving fresh, locally inspired food to Nelsonians.

River Kitchen – Coming up 10 years of serving fresh, locally inspired food to Nelsonians.

The River Kitchen is a popular cafe in Nelson. Overlooking the beautiful Maitai River, there’s a stunning walkway that weaves alongside the riverbank and if you feel adventurous it will take you all the way to Richmond and beyond… as it’s the beginning of the Great Taste Trail network which Nelson is famous for.

River Kitchen has their 10th year birthday coming up mid-August, so keep an eye out on their social media for some celebratory specials as they thank the loyal locals for their support.

“It’s been a rollercoaster with us having to navigate Covid lockdowns, Staff supply shortages from closed borders, Severe flooding of the river nearby, a leaky building construction site next door, food prices and high inflation. When you say it out loud it’s amazing we are still here and smiling.” Laughs Clare.

Clare and Blue are very well known and respected in the hospo industry here in Nelson. Prior to the River Kitchen they ran the Milton Street Fish’n’Chip shop, which was a hit with the locals. Their vision was to own a larger venue and that’s what they did.

Clare regularly visits the Saturday morning markets in Nelson to buy fresh seasonal produce for the week. Choosing the right ingredients, that are naturally in-season. It helps them manage the soaring food prices we are seeing around the country at the moment without raising the price.

“There’s something so good about eating food that’s just been picked. It tastes better, it’s better value and of course it’s a better deal for the planet.”

“We customise our menu to suit the season, and it’s constantly changing as we move through the four season cycles. It’s healthy to rotate the menu. When we visit the UK, we see items like Raspberry’s available year-round, and it’s not what we are about. Refreshing, local seasonal ingredients are our specialty. We notice the customers are mostly local people and we know many by their first names, which has been a huge part of our success during the recent challenges with Covid and local river floods.”

“One thing we have discovered considering the Covid lockdown challenges, is that we now close on Mondays. It gives our hard-working staff a weekend, and we embrace the benefits of taking a day off. Everyone is happier and we think we’ll keep Mondays as a recharge day.”

River Kitchen employs 15 staff and during the summer season that climbs to 25. It’s a large area to look after and clear tables. Did you know that River Kitchen can host functions and weddings? It’s important to have a great team working together. You can tell the staff are happy and have a good time.

Some challenges that are worth mentioning is PayWave. It’s what most people are used to these days. No pin number required for purchases under $200. Tap and go. It’s quick and easy.

However absorbing the 2.5% fee on all transactions over the span of a year adds up to a significant amount, so they have reluctantly had to compensate for this in the pricing.

Being an indoor/outdoor venue means they are pet friendly and it’s a great spot to meet up with plenty of car parking in the Millers Acre Car Park nearby. Bring the dog for a stroll.

During the recent floods the Maitai river was getting pretty close to the edge of the venue. They had friends with trucks ready to help evacuate if needed. Thankfully it was okay.

“Huge thanks to the Nelson City Council and local truck drivers for their fast response to clearing the silt in the river and helping us all breathe a sigh of relief. We had some sleepless nights when that was happening, but we know there were many worse off than us. It’s events like this where locals pull together and help each other out.” says Blue.

Looking for a great spot to catch up with friends. Relax with some amazing food offerings and locally sourced wines, juices and more. Think River Kitchen – it’s your local.

Find them at 81 Trafalgar St, Nelson, New Zealand


Explore the virtual tour at River Kitchen


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