Overlooking the tranquil ocean coastline that is St Clair beach in Dunedin, New Zealand, is Starfish Café and Bar.
Only a short distance from the city centre on the esplanade, café and restaurant owners Nick and Khusla Dodds have taken inspiration from the sun, sand and surf. The pair have together created a café that projects a relaxed atmosphere. The café environment unfolds in a stylish art deco building.
In what was a just a small downstairs premises to begin with, Khusla and Nick purchased Starfish Café in October 2005 before converting the upstairs flat in 2006 which helped them to double the floor space.
Since then, Starfish Café and Bar has grown from strength to strength and Khusla says this is largely a result of maintaining the Starfish principles, which are “customer service, producing amazing coffee and comfort Kiwi style cuisine, bursting with flavour”.
Khusla says combined, she and nick have over 20 years experience in hospitality. She says that they are amazed that coffee has become such an iconic drink in New Zealand.
“Nowadays, coffee is an art form, a passion and a huge part of people’s day- to-day lives, so the skills needed to keep up with the play are ever evolving,” she says. Khusla says customers can expect “friendly, happy and efficient staff and prompt service all for a reasonable price”.
“The customer having an excellent experience is the reason for our existence,” she says.
“We don’t view them [customers] as dollars signs, we view them as people that have chosen to enter our business with needs to be meet. We will go over and above to meet their needs.”
Starfish’s signature espresso blend is Primo, which brings together beans from several countries, including Brazil, Central America and Africa. Khusla says the blend is “big, rich and handsome with a spectacular spectrum of flavours that is medium and dark roasted”.
Starfish Café offers an extensive menu from breakfast through to evening meals.The café is well-known among Dunedin locals for its breakfast menu, in particular the starfish Breakfast stack, consisting of grilled ciabatta with hash browns, tomatoes, streaky bacon, free-range poached egg and hollandaise sauce.
At the end of the day, Khusla says it’s gratifying to see regular customers walk away happy with what they produce, day after day.
“Also seeing the business go from strength to strength year after year… and the amazing view of st Clair beach is something you never take for granted.”