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How Well Do We Know People In Our Community?

June 13, 2024 June 2024, Regular Features No Comments

Sue Sullivan at a key workstation: Kitcheners coffee machine.

By Lyle Griffiths

Sue Sullivan is a well-known identity in our community. Where else are you greeted by “Hello Darling,” giving an immediate uplift to your day? And the Havana coffee is now a basic necessity of life. 

Bruce and Sue both lived in Martinborough when the children were small, working on farms at Hinekura, Bush Gully, and Arohanui. When the Hinekura School closed they moved to Wellington for the children’s education. One hour on the bus each way to Martinborough School for 5-year-old Jasmin was just too long. 

After the girls had finished their secondary education, Sue and Bruce returned to Martinborough. Her Mum and Dad were keen for them to return and help with the family farm.

Meanwhile Sue completed her Wine Industry Certificate and worked on vineyards taking cuttings for the Budwood Industry contracted by Riversun.

Bruce and Sue bought Kitchener’s Dairy in 1996. It originally had 6 owners who ran a tea rooms, the post shop, and a dairy.

After a day of working in the vines Sue and Chrissy, her sister were heading back to the tearoom for a sausage roll, when they noticed a tiny, printed sign half hidden by a curtain: “Business for Sale.”

They discussed it and plunged in. Sue had worked in Wellington, owning two cafes so had plenty of experience.

In the tea rooms there were four chairs. The kitchen possessed only two domestic ovens. There was no dishwasher. Facilities were minimal.

The Post Office was a facility where people paid their phone bills, power bills, road user charges, and posted their letters and parcels.

“Every morning at 5.00 a.m. we would have to meet the mail van and then sort all the letters for the postal boxes said Sue. We worked from 5.00 a.m. till 5.00 p.m. It was a time-consuming operation with little reward. And then there was the Dairy.

“We passed the NZ Post business to new people so we could concentrate on the catering side of the business. We made improvements. We upgraded the facilities.

“We noticed there was no business in town offering breakfasts. So, we opened earlier at 4.00am to cater for the shearers and truck drivers who stopped in for breakfast or sandwiches. 

“Breakfasts initially were Bacon and Eggs or Sausages and Eggs. Then later we introduced Mince on Toast and Scrambled Eggs. All food on the premises is hand made. Every day it is fresh.

“We concentrate on using premium ingredients. Our beef and corned beef are grown by Palliser Ridge. We use Henergy Barn eggs. Our Pickles come from Barkers in Central Otago. Our Mayonnaise comes from Best Foods. Bruce makes all the pies every day _ the Curried Sausage pies, the Steak and Cheese pies, the Pepper Steak pies.

“The Curried Sausage pies are very popular. We have one customer who regularly comes across from Wellington to purchase them in quantity.”

But another shift is about to occur. Bruce and Sue have gifted the business to their daughters. The new hours are from 5.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. Monday to Friday. And then a new addition, so “Watch this Space:” there will be a Saturday Big Breakfast from 7.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.

Sue says: “I am not ready to give up work yet and we haven’t found anyone who can work the coffee machine so I will be on deck for a while. 

“Bruce will benefit in time with two new knees. We will continue cycling the Ruakokopatuna Loop. We walk up the Pylon tracks, or along the coast to the Turakirae Heads. And then there is the 5-acre vegetable and flower garden of my parents.

There is certainly no lack of things to do.

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