It took a pandemic for Bridget Wright to realise that food really is her passion.
‘‘I’m from a foodie family. We’re always eating one meal and talking about the next.’’
And it has taken her from the corporate world to the country, Naseby in fact, where she has just opened her own eatery, Yeet Cafe.
Her first business venture is based in the same building as the former Black Forest Cafe on Derwent St.
The 40-year-old has spent her career in the food and beverage industry at home and abroad. In fact she was heading overseas just before lockdown in March.
‘‘I was going to go to Scotland and look up the family history. I’d already given up my job, my house. Then lockdown happened.’’
Her father was living in St Bathans, and had a cottage he used for Airbnb that she could stay in.
Those weeks in Level 3 and 4 proved to be a revelation.
‘‘I reassessed my life and I realised I did not want another corporate job.‘‘
She had worked for a wine company in both New Zealand and London and an organic food outfit in North Auckland. St Bathans was about as far removed from both as she could imagine.
Born and raised south of Kaikoura on a farm, she had only been to Central for short visits, but soon fell in love with the region.
She even got a dog, a wee schnauzer, Arco.
While she was figuring how to get on a new path, she worked at the Vulcan Hotel, which also renewed her love of hospitality. With a long-held dream of doing a food truck or similar in the back of her mind, quite randomly, she saw a building up for lease and a business for sale in Naseby.
‘‘It was, ’should I, should I not’, and I’m so glad I did. I turned 40 in February, and you look back over your life, and I felt if I don’t do something then, when? I’m really glad I did and I’m proud of myself for that.’’
Miss Wright is living in Naseby.
‘‘I’ve alway dreamed of walking to work. And now I am – it’s three minutes.’’
People always want to know how she came up with the Cafe’s name, Yeet.
‘‘I went through a lot different names, and I got friends’ opinions. It was really my nephew Spike who came up with it.’’
Instead of saying ’cool’ when something good happens, he would say ’yeet’, which in slang can mean anything from ’yes’ to expressing excitement or approval.
‘‘The name stuck with me.’’
And it seemed perfect for her new venture and a good play on words for ’eat’, which is guaranteed to be a tasty and wholesome experience, according to the steady stream of customers coming through the door.
Her sister Fiona came down to help for week and has stayed for three.
‘‘I’m busier than I could have ever imagined,’’ Miss Wright said.
It has been a big learning curve. She ran out of food the first weekend she was open, and had to stay up late to ensure she had enough for the next day.
‘‘I didn’t want to make too much but I would rather it be that way [than having to chuck it out].
Staffing would be her greatest challenge, she said. Since opening, she has had people ready and willing to help her out by jumping in and doing the dishes; such has been the support of the locals who have missed having their own cafe.
‘‘But I feel the right people will come to us when they’re supposed to.
‘‘I could make it stressful but I choose not to.”
A few doors down at the Royal publican Adrian Hood was pleased to see a cafe operating again at the site.
‘‘It’s a bit like Hertz and Avis at the airport — there’s a place for both, and we’re very supportive of the cafe; we do complement each other.
‘‘While the cafe was closed people said we should get into the morning market but we wanted to keep that space available for them.’’
His other pub, the Ancient Briton Hotel, remains closed after being gutted by fire in December 2019.