As a very young man I travelled to Australia and then onto Europe (mainly Italy and France). I was blown away by the European Café culture. The Café as the community meeting place, how everyone of all levels in the local community met at the café over a cup of strong, small black espresso.
When I arrived back in New Zealand, I was determined to start a café, not as a business to make a living, but as a way of life.
I found a disused space in the centre of the city in the historic Civic Theatre, and as I had very little money, started work myself renovating the space with my girlfriend and best friend from school. Ten months later in 1981, DKD opened and was an instant success. Looking back it was very exciting, arty, intellectual and a great place to meet.
After 6 years, I had enough, and after setting up another old friend to keep the place going, I left DKD - it ran in the end for around 17 years, longevity always being one of the original goals.
After a couple of years practising at being an artist, and with a girlfriend, I needed to look at career matters more seriously. Within 12 months I was back in the café business, with Kings Café at the Garden Centre in Remuera.I introduced cabinet food, the kids fluffy and the Flat White. After 12 months of trading, this was the busiest café in Auckland. I was then offered the opportunity to set up a Café in David Levenes new mega store in Newmarket - so I was running both cafes at the same time.
Café Extreme was huge - the goal was to create an intimate friendly café, with excellent service and quality, but on a large scale. At the back of my mind, I wanted to offer an alternative to the American offerings that dominated the market. The experiment was very successful, and became larger than any other in New Zealand.
Coffee was always the driver behind my cafes and the next challenge was to improve the quality of the roasted beans. I visited San Francisco and Seattle in the US and then went to Europe for training and education. In 1997 Karajoz Coffee Company was born, and we are now one of the few remaining large independent roasters in the country.
My belief has always been, always do things with the highest integrity, and never compromise on quality.