What a ride – who could have possibly thought? This truly exceeds our wildest dreams.
In 2009, a little 20-seater cafe opened for business in Morningside. Ten years, two venue changes, and thousands of wonderful memories later, Crave has now grown to be literally the largest and busiest cafe in New Zealand. And we’re still located in lil ol’ Morningside.
Despite many warnings about mixing family (not to mention church) with business, Nigel Cottle, current manager of Crave, and his brother Craig opened Crave with the intention of connecting the community.
But seven hard months after it all began, both Nigel and his brother were beginning to believe it was all a failed experiment. “Hospitality is a very difficult industry to make work financially,” says Nigel. “We were struggling.”
Thankfully, they stuck in there. This was largely due to the support of the Crave Collective and Mosaic Morningside, who believed in the vision and backed it with both time on the tools and money from their own wallets.
Members of the collectives helped build the cafe, raised funds through working at Parachute music festival (three years in a row), and donated $100,000 of personal contributions.
As our little cafe’s excellent reputation grew, so too did our need for it to be not-so-little. We tried knocking down a wall to make some room, which worked for a short time. Then, four years ago, the crew voted it was time to move.
The move was big and ambitious. Much more ambitious than Nigel realised – he had no idea the new space would make Crave physically the biggest cafe in New Zealand! Though this particular achievement wasn’t intentional, it sure put Crave on the map and accelerated the project’s momentum. Nigel believes: “It now seems like anything is possible in this ‘hood.”
Backed by his team members, Nigel feels he has grown tremendously as a leader. He’s been running the Crave ship for eight years now, which is a huge achievement for someone who had no formal training or experience other than managing volunteer teams during his days as a youth worker.
Nigel credits the success of Crave to his hard-working employees for helping him along the way: “Thank you to everyone who has ever worked alongside me, for getting stuck in and giving it your best even if you were pulling your hair out along the way,” he says. “To those who have sought to bring structure and systems to Crave – I salute you. You are the true saviours of this place.”
As you may know, Crave is a social enterprise: a cafe for the community. These kinds of businesses, regardless of the size of their hearts and the decency of their intentions, don’t always succeed.
In fact, it can be hard to succeed even as a non-charitable cafe. Statistics show that 70% of ventures fail in the first 18 months, and 80% of the rest fail within 5 years.
For us to make it to the 10-year point is no mean feat. And we have not only survived but also thrived, recently being awarded “Most Outstanding Cafe” by the Lewisham Foundation.
We know we consistently have great food and great coffee, and since our new head chef James’ arrival, we have rather quick service, too. But we also have a great heart – a beating heart. And that is thanks to all of the staff, the Crave Collective, and Mosaic.
But it’s also thanks to you, Morningside, for helping to make this ‘hood a better place to live – the best place to live, in fact.
We are making a profound difference to this wonderful place we call home. Crave has become so much more than just a cafe; it’s helping to draw people to this great ‘hood. It is manaakitanga, and it is bringing whanaungatanga to this part of the earth.
What on earth will Morningside look like, what will it feel like, in another 10 years?
Let’s make it even more awesome together.