To show local residents that the Grafton Road café was under new management, Welcome Eatery General Manager Ralph Jenner found the most obvious way to tell people.
“We thought, why not put a big welcome sign on the door in a big light box? You can’t be more obvious than that,” says Ralph. “The former business that was once here wasn’t too accessible to the public, but we wanted to show that we are.”
Located in an Orion Health building, Ralph spent a few months refitting and designing the space with Perth-based architect Adam Alexander until it was ready for opening in March. “We went for a modern, clean and crisp fitout to tie in with the corporate building. It’s a spacious venue with plenty of room to hold a quiet meeting in a corner and lots of seating for couples and singles too,” he says.
The ‘welcome’ message quickly took effect, as the venue is filled daily with corporate visitors, local residents, and coffee lovers who are thrilled a specialty coffee shop has found its way to the outskirts of Auckland’s CBD.
The café uses Coffee Supreme for its house blend. “It has a nice caramel flavour with citrus notes and works well with milk-based and black coffees,” says Ralph.
Welcome Eatery also serves Coffee Supreme’s batch-brewed single origins using a Moccamaster. Ralph says standout single origins have included beans from Ethiopia and Yemen.
Ralph says the a la cart menu is driven by his love of fresh seasonal produce, in addition to his cabinet selection of sandwiches and salads for those eating on‑the‑go.
“Our motto is fast, fresh, and friendly. Our focus is on serving quality fresh food items made on site daily, in addition to our coffee,” says Ralph.
Ralph has worked in the hospitality industry since he was 16 years old. He’s worked in various New Zealand and Melbourne cafés, but jumped at the chance to start his own café venture with business partner Johnny Hartnett.
Besides dabbling in barista jobs, Ralph also enjoys critiquing barista’s techniques when he worked for three years as a sensory judge for the New Zealand Barista Championship.
“I’m passionate about judging and I enjoy the work I do each day,” he says. “I have a ‘feed the people attitude’, when I see empty plates and smiling faces, I can’t help but smile along too.”