Recycling takes on a new meaning - Matthew Foot
Wooden slates frame the canopy and catch your eye as you pull up outside the Garage Espresso and Brendan Foot Supersite. Stark white, clean lines greet you upon entering the cafe. And the simple but effective workshop out the back is where the servicing side of the business takes place.
In October 2010, Matthew spotted the site and began some research. In order to make something of the opportunity, it needed to be innovative, but also attract guaranteed customers. Matthew met with the Upper Hutt City Council to find out what needed to be done in order to comply with the residential zone it was situated in, then set out to create his masterpiece. Offers came in from businesses that wanted to partner with the Brendan Foot Supersite, some included veterinary services and doctors surgeries, but ultimately it was the café concept that prevailed.
On average, Brendan Foot Supersites sell 150 new cars per month, which then also require servicing. Many of their customers live in Upper Hutt and are not prepared to drive to Lower Hutt to get their regular service, so it made sense to open up a workshop to cater for these customers. This is where the café idea came about – why not drop off your car and have a coffee while you wait?
Matthew continued his research, discovering that 22,000 cars pass by the site on a daily basis. Competition wise, there was only one café down the road with the next closest five kilometres away. The site was opposite a rugby and football park which overflows with families on the weekends, so parents who need that quick cuppa to keep them going would be guaranteed customers. Next he surrounded himself with key individuals to help turn his dream into a reality – an architect with vision and a barista with flair.
Commenting, Matthew says research is key. “Competition, area, traffic – all of these are what make a business such as this successful,” he says.
“Planning for the future was also important, we couldn’t be sure that this concept would fly so we needed to think of ways to maximise the site and make it adaptable.” An extra concrete pad is located out the back beside the workshop, big enough to add on an extra two bays if the demand was there. But out the front, customers can drive through and quickly pick up a coffee on their way to work (making use of the previous forecourt and canopy). There’s also an area for children to run around in a fenced off safe environment.
Matthew was also conscious of not forcing brands on people, so all customers will see is a simple display – one or two vehicles, a vintage car, or a new motorcycle, with a subtle sign on the wall to represent the current display.
Since opening in late March, business has steadily increased, despite not having advertised. Customers have generally come straight off the street or word of mouth has sent them searching for Garage Espresso’s great food and coffee. “Of all the businesses I’ve owned, this has been the fastest growing so far”, says Ken Christison, owner of Garage Espresso.
And it’s fair to say that Ken knows the industry well, he was a founder of Ripe Coffee Company, successful Wellington based business that now provide coffee for cafés throughout the North Island.
“I had read about the success of similar partnerships in Australia and jumped at the opportunity to work with Matt and his team. The two businesses run as separate entities, but share the same site, and so far they have been very complementary for one another. Somehow the ‘blokiness’ with a feminine touch is a winner!”
Ken has high hopes for Garage Espresso, already planning the area in which they will roast their own coffee in the future, to create a unique blend for his customers.
So what can members take from this? Anything is possible when an opportunity arises; it’s just a case of thinking outside the square. Matthew Foot found a cost effective way to create an easy investment, all it took was simple research, partnering with key individuals and being adaptable.
Feel free to email Matthew, he is more than happy to speak to any members who have questions about the project - or phone him on 04 5870005.
Story by Stephanie Anderson, MTA