BY JULIA WADE
A cafe serving refreshment to visitors at Mangawhai’s favourite playing park has undergone another change of hands with the new owner having a strong focus on healthy eating to cater to all tastes.
New owner Ken Rayward and volunteers conducted market research recently at Mangawhai Activity Zone (MAZ) and calculated more than 1000 people were visiting throughout a summer weekend. Ken felt he wanted to be more ‘interactive’ with the visitors and regular users of the park.
“I’ve had a close ongoing association with the park for some time and wanted to be more hands on, more visible, “ the former Mangawhai Heads Opportunity Factory volunteer and trustee says. “I gave Colin, MAZ Trust chair, every chance to talk me out of it but he just kept saying ‘great’.”
The cafe has received ‘tremendous support’ from the community, and regular users of the park, including young skateboarders, even pitch in to set up and close down the cafe every day.
“Locals seem to feel better that someone is here the whole time. My first aid kit has been used a bit,” he says. “Having the cafe as part of MAZ seems to complete the loop of everything here.”
With five percent of the total cafe turnover gifted to MAZ providing an ongoing income for the park, Ken says customers can feel good in the knowledge that when purchasing their morning brew or mid-afternoon snack they are also supporting MAZ with ongoing developments such as the proposed new clubrooms.
Owning Cafe MAZ is Ken’s first venture behind a culinary counter, however he says he enjoys cooking and has tried his hand at developing some original dishes including a crispy flatbread open sandwich.
“So far they’ve gone down well… haven’t poisoned anyone yet, even got some compliments! Another thing we have been offering with wonderful success is a complimentary sweet with each coffee or tea order, either a Godzilla-Killer Lemon Slice or a Scrumptious Ginger Crunch,” he says. “While they may not quite get a heart tick they will certainly kick start your day!”
Manned mainly by Ken and friend Jenny Bode, the cafe will also be staffed by a number of MAZ volunteers and although only owning the cafe less than a month, the serial volunteer, who is also a sponsor for local youth involved in community service, already has future plans to enhance his customer experience.
Assisted by Jenny, a former commercial gardener, the surrounding grounds will be developed into a relaxing outside eating area in time for next summer with sun shade sails, outdoor seating and the establishment of gardens.
Produce will be sourced from local businesses where possible including coffee from Rush, baked treats from Mangawhai Heads Four Square bakery, plus fruit and vegetables from local growers. Rayward also plans on stocking a broad range of herbal teas and a specialised winter menu including hot soup.
Open seven days a week until April, the hours will then alter to align with the change of seasons.
“Generally the hours will depend on the weather, we’ll close if it pours down… or if I want to go fishing!” he says. “But we’re open from 9am to whenever. In true Mangawhai style, if people are here we’ll just go with it…”
Proud new owner of Cafe MAZ, Ken Rayward, with friend and volunteer Jenny Bode busy serving a customer, says the cafe’s link to MAZ is a significant point for customers.