CASE STUDY
The French Cafe, Auckland

Featured in Metro Magazine’s top 50 rated restaurants of 2016, The French Café is a mecca for anyone seeking one of the world’s more incredible fine-dining experiences.

Filled with light, bonhomie, exquisite wines, and a cornucopia of gloriously crafted and presented fare, The French Café has been awarded three hats, a spot in the world’s top-ten fine-dining restaurants, as well as being voted the number one restaurant in both New Zealand and Australasia by Trip Advisor.

Behind the restaurant’s success is the talented duo of Executive Chef, Simon Wright, and his wife, Creghan Molloy-Wright, who manages the floor. “People always say, ‘How do you do that; work with your partner?’ but honestly I couldn’t do it without my wife!” says Simon. 

 

See a day in the life of The French Café. 

For the food lovers, check out The French Cafés Autumn menu.  

For the aspiring or existing hospitality owners, you’re probably wondering how you can make your own success. Find the answer here or read on to see how the French Café became one of the most awarded fine-dining experiences in Auckland. 

 

How did The French Café get to where it is today?

“When we took over in 1999, it was a going concern that it had sort of been resting on its laurels and needed some love,” Simon said.

“I refitted my kitchen about seven years ago and put industrial vinyl floor down, then I had to rip it up about two years later but it only lasted about nine months before I had to put a new floor down again. When I realised everything would have to come out, I had a chance to do some different configurations for the kitchen and just tidy it up really. I only had time to do it was during two weeks over Christmas, but at that time of year you have big expenses and as soon as I get back in January I get smashed with tax.

“We’ve always bought everything out of cash-flow, and allowed $40K for the floor but affording the new equipment on top of that was going to be a bit tricky. I went through Southern Hospitality to do the flooring and as the budget got bigger and bigger they asked if I’d ever thought about renting instead of buying equipment outright. They suggested I talk to Silver Chef. To be honest, without Silver Chef I couldn’t have afforded anything but the floor.

“Silver Chef supplied two solid-tops, two gas ovens, a gas fryer and interlocking bench spaces from the Waldorf Bold series. It looks a lot sharper. Their application process was great. Trent, who’s the guy here, was outstanding. Basically, he would just turn up and get us to sign some papers and it was brilliant.

“I know what I want and I have pretty much designed the kitchen to do the menu style we’re doing at the moment. But having the flexibility of being able to change our style slightly or develop another area that requires a different piece of equipment is quite appealing.

“With their Rent Try Buy option, it’s not all dead money because you can choose to purchase at the end of the twelve months. If you’re a young chef starting out it’s a great option without overcapitalising yourself. If it’s only costing you five or six hundred a week it’s a great thing.”

 

Of course, we couldn’t interview one of the world’s top chefs without asking what advice they would give to anyone wanting to become a restaurateur.

Simon’s response? “As an employer, I find the youth of today very frustrating to some degree because when I was coming up it was all about getting an apprenticeship, keeping your head down, and absorbing as much knowledge and experience as you could. You build your skills slowly and develop like that. I think nowadays with MasterChef and shows like that, they take the normal person and elevate them to superstar chef status but they miss out everything in the middle, the foundations to running a restaurant. You need to work for someone else like it really is your own business because that’ll give you the self-discipline you need and the skills you need to open your own place and really be a success.”

The French Café is now in contention with the other top restaurants for the 2016 Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Awards which will be announced on April 11. 


Interested in following in the footsteps of The French Café? Click here to download your free copy of The Plain Language Guide to Restaurant Success: The must-have guide to establishing a profitable business now!

Simon Wright
The French Cafe, Auckland

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