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A Cromwell couple are keeping business afloat in the age of Covid-19, and buoyed by the success of the Lake Dunstan Trail are expanding from a barge to a flotilla.

Jolanda and Richard Foale will launch what is believed to be a New Zealand first floating burger outlet named Burger Afloat, tomorrow.

The new venture complements the couple’s existing business, Coffee Afloat, which launched alongside the new trail between Cromwell and Clyde shortly after it opened in May.

The couple’s Cromwell-based scenic helicopter company, Heliview Flights, was all but grounded by the pandemic.

Needs must, and the Foales did not rest on their laurels during construction of the trail they were involved in aerial geotechnical surveys and made an appearance in marketing material as models.

From that an idea was born, with some inspiration courtesy of a television show they watched during the 2020 lockdown, Mrs Foale said.

“During the first lockdown, as we shut our helicopter down for a few weeks, and like the rest of the country, waited with bated breath to see what the future may hold, we watched a programme called Undercover Billionaire.

“The undercover billionaire has to go to a new town and start from scratch.

“They gave the guy 90 days to create a business and make a name for himself. He went into town, got a feel for it and decided to craft a Texas slow-cooked brisket restaurant.”

Their initial idea was less ambitious beans from their floating cafe and since the venture opened it has gone from strength to strength.

Mrs Foale said she and her husband had been overwhelmed by support from both locals and visitors to the region keen for a caffeine fix while making the three to four-hour (one way) cycle along the trail.

Its popularity meant the question of expansion became not so much an “if” but a “when?” and the idea of burgers as fuel for the ride seemed the next logical step, Mrs Foale said.

“Really bloody good burgers. and well, we’ve tried to do a little bit better than just that.

“Our first ever burger is a decadent venison and thyme burger with smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, pinot pickled onions and Central Otago apricot relish.”

To wash it down is cherry juice from the Cromwell-based Benjer Juices. Supporting local was something important to the couple, Mrs Foale said.

“It’s always been incredibly important to us.

“We decided on venison because we both love it and we are also lucky enough to have built relationships with other local businesses like The Fridge Butchery with our other business Heliview Flights, offering our Central Otago Heli Picnic.”

The venison was sourced from Fiordland and the New Zealand bacon was slow smoked in Taranaki.

Multiple taste tests were required to perfect the recipe. The couple decided to go with thyme to flavour the pattie, again locally sourced from Basil, Parsley & Partners in Ripponvale.

“It’s Central Otago through and through and our location at Cairnmuir Gully is surrounded by this aromatic herb that speaks so much of the region.”

Swiss cheese was settled upon, thanks to Mrs Foale’s Swiss heritage, the pinot pickled onions were sourced from Cromwell’s Gertz Larder, and the apricot relish was custom-made by the The Kitchen Garden in Bannockburn.

The burger is based on a family recipe passed on by Mrs Foale’s aunt, and she believes they have struck the perfect recipe to make Burger Afloat a destination in its own right.

“If you haven’t tried one, you want to.

“We didn’t want to just cook up any old burger and bank on our location doing the hard work for us. We want Burger Afloat to be a destination for people visiting Central Otago.”

At this point the couple will wait and see how it goes.

venture, and this burger, mean the world to us, so we can’t wait to see what you all think.

“If it goes down anything like our coffee on Coffee Afloat, we might need to get a bigger boat in time for summer.”

Burger Afloat’s launch coincides with the start of Eat.Taste.Central month-long celebration of Central Otago’s food and wine scene.