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Cafe’s focus on Dunedin

Ironic Cafe and Bar co-owners Sue Moller and Steve Wilson outside their new business venture in George St, near the Octagon. Photo: Shawn McAvinue
A Dunedin couple have expanded their eatery business in their hometown rather than accept an opportunity in Wanaka.
Ironic Cafe and Bar co-owners Sue Moller and Steve Wilson opened their restaurant in Anzac Ave, opposite Dunedin Railway Station, in December 2007.
The couple then accepted an offer from the Dunedin City Council to open a cafe in Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and Ironic@Toitu was born about five years ago.
They were offered an opportunity to open a "large restaurant" in the residential development Northlake in Wanaka late last year, he said.
"We looked at it and what going up there would do to our life and we opted to stay in Dunedin," Mr Wilson said.
Ms Moller said family, including three grandchildren, living in Dunedin was a factor for saying no.
After declining the offer, the couple discovered cafe Bite Kitchen in George St was for sale.
They bought the cafe as a going concern, rebranded it, Ironic on George, and opened on January 16 this year.
"It has been really fantastic," Mr Wilson said.
The Octagon was a "vibrant" place.
"There is always something happening."
Ms Moller said being near the Octagon allowed them to showcase their food including Evoke Coffee, which they roasted themselves.
"We wanted the main street to get a taste of how good it is."
The food available in Ironic on George was made on site and differed from the fare available in the other two arms of the business, because it mostly catered for clients wanting to take food away, she said.
Asked if they had ever considered shutting down any arm of the business, Ms Moller's response was immediate.
"Hell, no - the growth is huge."
To succeed in the industry required hard work and the customer must be listened to, she said.
Mr Wilson said Dunedin was a great city to do business.
The business had contracts to supply thousands of meals to companies providing excursions for cruise ship passengers in Dunedin.
For research, and to celebrate a milestone birthday, the couple did a cruise about five years ago. The cruise allowed them to taste the food available on excursions from different ports, so they were sure they were providing better food in Dunedin than passengers were being served elsewhere.
Mr Wilson said the aim remained the same across each arm of the business - to create memories similar to one he has of his mother's fish pie.
Every time a customer finished a meal, such as seafood chowder or lamb's fry, he wanted the customer to take away a memory.
"You have to create food memories," Mr Wilson said.