In the neighbourhood

Good magazine talked to the team behind the Auckland cafe all about neighbourhood, Crave  

What’s the story behind Crave?

This used to be written on the walls of the old Crave building, and is great for understanding the story behind it. Crave cafe is owned by a collective. If you’re over 50, you’ll understand the hippie potential of this term. If not, it’s like this:

A few of us got together (over food and wine) and decided we wanted to be good neighbours and live in/help create a great neighbourhood. We chipped in and started Crave Collective, an organisation with objectives similar to a charity – that means that all of our profits go towards the community, and helping to destroy poverty of any kind. No extra money goes back to us. What we do get is the better neighbourhood we all want to live in. This seems like a good time to us. One of the basic cravings of humanity is to connect with each other.

We think outstanding fairly traded coffee and engaging conversations in scintillating environs is a brilliant way to connect. And we’d like to thank you for supporting the local community and making this neighbourhood a better place to live, simply by living a little with us.”

Crave was started in 2009 by a group of neighbours in Morningside, who formed themselves as Crave Collective. It was a risky move – they had limited cafe experience, it was a poor location for a cafe and they only had a small community supporting it financially. Despite this they had a strong vision and the self-belief that they could pull it off.

One of the basic cravings of humanity is to connect with each other.

And its recent relocation change?

After operating for a number of years, Crave was given the most incredible opportunity to take our neighbourhood engagement to the next level. A generous landlord offered to build the Collective an amazing cafe on the corner of Auckland’s Morningside Drive and McDonald Street. With triple the size floor space, all-day sun streaming indoors and out, 50 new chairs, and 25 carparks, it was going to be a good time for all. It also meant that we can open at night, three times a week, serving a delicious new menu and MorningCider.

This has been something that has evolved over time, but it really started to take shape a couple of years ago. The original cafe (which is directly across the road) became very busy over time, and the locals always said that they’d support us if we moved to a bigger space. The bigger space became available to us – three times the size of the original cafe – and so we leapt at the opportunity. The building started about a year ago, and after many hours of labour (sometimes long into the night), we opened.

The space became available to Crave cafe through one of its customers. He’s a property developer in Auckland, and offered to rent the building to Crave. On top of that, he contributed to equipment costs and offered to tag the rent to the cafe’s turnover. It was great timing, the perfect location, and a generous offer.

We have 36 staff (and counting!). They come from all walks of life, many of them friends of staff already and/or locals to Morningside.

Why the name Crave?

From our website: One of the basic cravings of humanity is to connect with each other. We think that outstanding coffee, superb food and engaging conversations in locally-crafted spaces are a brilliant way to show ‘manaakitanga’ to all.

What is your background and food philosophy?

Nigel Cottle, manager and neighbourhood connector, Crave: “Hospitality and being hospitable is a life value of mine. It’s how my family brings people together – eating good food together is a core part of how his life works. To be involved in a hospitality business is an extension of that.”

What about your favourite dish, Nigel?

My favourite day dish is the Rossmay which we just brought back! It is the complete breakfast, has maple bacon and a crispy hash under some greens and slow roasted aubergine which has a sweet banana like vibe all sitting on a zingy pesto with a runny poached egg on the top. My favourite evening dish is the beef tartare. It is polarising, but if you are game it is a good time.

What is Crave’s ethos?

Crave is run by a 15-strong collective. It’s a not-for-profit, which means that, after the cost of staff, bills, etc. is met, all the money is poured into projects that better the Morningside neighbourhood and make it a great place to live and connect with others. We pretty passionate about that.

How were you inspired with regards to the design and aesthetic of Crave?

As a collective, we were drawn on the talents of everyone. This includes Dan Smith, an architect, who initially drew up the plans and helped in designing the look of the fitout. We also have Jared Diprose, a sculptor and artist, who has added the most incredible touches – for example, the hexagonal wood cabinet front, handmade in his studio in Morningside. The whole collective worked together to style and complete the look. It’s meant to be a second lounge to our locals and visitors… and we’ve tried to bring that ambiance alive.

The antler chandelier/lighting display you have installed is impressive. Where did that come from?

It’s from Bali.

Crave, 6 Morningside Dr, Morningside, Auckland. (09) 845 4714. Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday 7am to 5pm, Thursday-Saturday 7am to 11pm, Sunday 7am to 5pm. 

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