A Plum Job
19 May 2016
Meet Stephanie Croft, co-owner of Plum in Cuba Mall, one of our newest, and closest, café clients.
RH: It’s great to have you in the neighbourhood, we love being so close to Cuba St and so many great cafes and restaurants….
SC: We love this part of Wellington too! There’s always something happening in Cuba St, we love the music, the diversity and this year we especially loved CubaDupa.
RH: Your background is in textile design, not hospitality, how did you come to be owning a seven-day-a-week café?
SC: My husband David’s world is restaurants, wine and coffee. When we lived in London, he was cellar master at London’s famous Reform Club , a gentleman’s club on Pall Mall inhabited by writers and politicians and known for its associations with Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in Eighty Days. The club was where the idea of this incredible journey was conceived and the famous bet made.
David is also a qualified sommelier and, on our return to Wellington, had senior roles at Shed 5 and St Johns. We bought Plum in 2009 and I initially thought I would continue with my textile design work. We quickly realised Plum needed both of us. It was too much work for one, especially when we extended the opening hours and the scope of the business into more of a bistro/restaurant (at this time, we dropped the word ‘café’ from the name). Now with three children, working as a team, on both Plum and parenting, is the answer.
RH: How does that work out?
SC: It still took a while for us to each discover where our specific skills lie but David loves the front of house role: the people, the coffee, the wine; while I am usually behind the kitchen door doing ‘the business stuff’. I also love the food, the menu planning, meeting local suppliers and the networking involved.
RH: What’s the key to a great coffee?
SC: A great coffee is a combination of many factors; great beans, well roasted and stored appropriately, combined with a passionate barista who is able to maintain consistency regardless of volume pressures. Miriam and Eric from Emporio share similar business values to ours, so meshing with a great Wellington business like Emporio was an easy decision to make. We also really appreciate the close relationship they have with their growers. And of course, I love the new branding, especially the Crown Lynn-inspired take-out cups!
RH: Any advice for someone thinking of starting their own café?
SC: You have to have a really strong work ethic, be prepared to work long hours (and have few holidays) and have a strong identity of what you want to produce. Stick to who you are, your values. You need quite a thick skin I think!