The Little Dove That Flies High on Nelson’s Cafe Stage

In recent weeks, we’ve talked a lot about supporting local businesses, especially small businesses in these times affected by Covid-19. There is a special little cafe that has received a lot of support.

The Little Dove Café at the corner of Collingwood Street and Ajax Avenue has become a haven for many residents of the Wood area, and is being discovered by people from all over the area.

Owners Marianne Navon and Andrew Clancey have told me that they feel blessed with the support they have received since opening, and that this support doesn’t just come from customers. “Many local hotel companies have been incredibly supportive from day one,” says Andrew.

“We have a very stable local business and love the community here, the people are so supportive, many feel like part of our extended family. When people find us they get excited and tell others, we seem to have a forward momentum through word of mouth.

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The new outdoor terrace of the Little Dove Café.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

The new outdoor terrace of the Little Dove Café.

It sounds easy, but the popularity of this coffee is based on consistent quality, both in food and service.

Marianne told me that it had been an incredible journey during the 15 months of opening. “When we started the idea was to just be Andrew and I running a small cafe five days a week, but within a month we realized that with our little niche in the cafe scene (location and style of food), it all took off.

“We quickly realized we would need help and found an amazing pastry chef who is also a barista. We just had to hire another chef to run the kitchen during peak times so I could focus on creating new dishes and making some of the usual things like soups and hamin (a traditional Jewish stew) that we did. have on the menu.

Marianne Navon and Andrew Clancey opened Little Dove Café 15 months ago.


Marianne Navon and Andrew Clancey opened Little Dove Café 15 months ago.

One of the keys to Little Dove Coffee’s success is the experience they bring to the business. While Marianne has never worked in the hospitality industry before, Andrew, who runs the hospitality department, owned an upscale restaurant in Port Fairy, south of Melbourne. The fact that he is also a chef means that he can make his contribution to the dishes if necessary.

The couple met about 30 years ago in Melbourne and had “a great romance,” says Marianne, “but I moved to Israel and Andrew moved to Port Fairy. We kept in touch over the years and then in 2016 I went to see him in Australia and we got together again before moving to Nelson.

Andrew has two young children, Nina 10 and Joh, who turned 12 on Saturday, and being close to them was the main reason for coming to Nelson.

Marianne has lived in southern Israel on a kibbutz for almost 20 years and says that “the kind of food we serve is the food we eat at home and is based on Middle Eastern cuisine. In Israel there is now such a fusion of foods that we simply borrow from the area and bring those flavors to Nelson. “

She says she has enjoyed cooking since she was a teenager. She grew up in California on nouvelle cuisine, Mexican and southern foods like oatmeal and collard greens.

“My mom was a very creative Southern cook so I guess food is in my blood as a home cook.”

“Living in Israel has opened me up to a huge range of cuisines, it’s a real mishmash of cuisines from all over the world. When people migrated to Israel, they brought their food culture with them, so there are a lot of traditional foods and flavors from places like Tunisia, Morocco, Iran, Poland, Russia and many other countries.

“We try to blend the influences of Arab and Jewish cuisine with harmony, hence ‘Little Dove’.

The outdoor area offers a peaceful view of the Maitai River.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

The outdoor area offers a peaceful view of the Maitai River.

Andrew told me they were open to trying new foods “but we stick to very well done cooking.”

“We only have a very small kitchen, no grill, just an oven and a hob. We make everything here, so it’s baked goods, salads, and things we can cook on a stovetop. It is Marianne’s baby in terms of feeding and nutritional development. We like to think of it as really well done home cooking with integrity and love.

“Since we got here, the word serendipity has appeared. The opportunity to take back the space presented itself, Mimi Hausmann appeared when we were looking for a pastry chef, she is a German-trained pastry chef. When we told her we wanted to have babka, a yeast cake, and asked her if she had heard of it, lo and behold she had worked in the Melbourne bakery where she had been doing it for three years.

The latest addition to the little team at Little Dove Cafe is Nicola Nicole. “She’s from Auckland and worked at Allpress Coffee as a chef, so she knows good coffee too.”

People ask why they are only open Monday through Friday during the day. Andrew says they set out to make sure the business worked around them “rather than being held to ransom by the business, and it has worked incredibly well in many ways. We close for a week during school holidays so we can spend time with the kids, and we make sure our regulars know we are closing and why.

“We recently hiked the Heaphy Trail with our kids and when we reopened patrons were thrilled to hear how the bum had been. It looks like we’ve created an extended family in many ways, with customers becoming family. We try to return the favor by providing personalized service and putting people above profit whenever possible. “

The next step for this smart little cafe is to expand the outdoor food court. Marianne says Nelson City Council backed their plans and a patio had just been completed for guests to enjoy summer meals.

“It also gives us another option to manage the Covid restrictions, people can sit outside if they don’t feel comfortable being inside, it’s also a nice place to stay. sit and enjoy the sun by the river. “

If you want to enjoy a little part of the Middle East in Nelson during the day, you have to go to the Little Dove Café. You will not be disappointed.

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About Walter Bartholomew

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