02 August 2010

Wharfside Restaurant

Manager Charlie Kakau is one of the friendly staff to greet customers dining at Wharfside Restaurant. Charlie agreed to sit down with drama on the waterfront to tell us about his lengthy experience in the industry and how he’s found the last year at Circa’s waterfront restaurant.

Wharfside Restaurant Manager Charlie Kakau

DOTW: What is your background? What did you do before you came to Wharfside?

CK: I am Maori of Ngai Te Rangi/Ngati Ranginui descent (Tauranga/Mt Maunganui). I left school after completing 7th form at 17 years old and started a Chef apprenticeship in a small restaurant in Auckland. The apprenticeship was moving too slowly for me so I joined the Army where I attained London City & Guilds Qualifications. I left the Army after 11 years of service with the rank of Sergeant.

Some of my employment history is as follows:
·        Food & Beverage Manager at The Wellington Racing Club
·        Head of School, School of Catering & Hospitality at Whitireia Polytechnic
·        Catering Advisor to Ohakea Airbase
·        Catering Advisor/Manager to the East Timorese Defence Force, contracted with the United Nations
·        Catering Supervisor, Eurest, Wellington Convention Centre
·        Commis Chef, Flying Trestles, Post production of Lord of the Rings
·        Sales of Party Hire, Carlton Party Hire

Due to illness I decided to refocus my career at the beginning of 2009, and began to look for employment where I can leave my work at work, have reasonable hours (no such thing in hospitality), and still be challenged.  I was fortunate that the position at Wharfside became available.

Outside of work I have participated in other interests as follows:
·        Judge for the Wellington Region Youth Skills Olympics
·         Judge at National Salon Culinaire
·         Judge at Roy Smith Competitions (NZ Army)
·        Event  planning
·        Catering for private functions including dressing rooms for themed events

DOTW: How long have you worked for Wharfside?

CK: Just over a year, I started at Wharfside on 1 July 2009

DOTW: What challenges, if any, does working at a quality dining establishment in a theatre provide?

CK: Time is the largest challenge. We have limited time to serve guests before they are entertained in the theatre and always try to ensure that their dining experience enhances their overall theatre experience.  In a way, we are the Prologue for the show.  If the customer has a pleasant dinner they will enter the show in a positive frame of mind.

DOTW: Wharfside caters for a lot of events at Circa – whether they are corporate, social group or family events; what do you think of Wharfside/Circa as an event venue?

CK: Wharfside/Circa has a niche market in that we are able to provide entertainment with food and beverages, all in one neat package.  In other venues, entertainment is usually the responsibility of the client and they can be very cliché (such as music). Holding an event at Circa is particularly attractive for smaller businesses, who often have small office parties; why not take your office to a show without having to book out the whole theatre, then have a reserved area for their food and beverages? In this case, the entertainment is already there. It is unique, and for some, it is a new and pleasant experience. They get the benefit of quality entertainment, at a reasonable and achievable cost and still have a reserved area for their staff and or guests.

DOTW: Do you have any favourite stories from your time at Wharfside?

CK: I don’t have any favourite stories but I have had several pleasant experiences, too many to mention.

DOTW: What should potential customers and Circa audience members know about Wharfside Restaurant?

CK: Wharfside is what I would call a “practical” restaurant. This means that our menu and service is designed with the theatre-goer in mind.  At the same time, it is practical in terms of being able to cater for corporate, social and other events for guests who are not attending a show.  We have the flexibility to create menus and packages with client specific needs.

On a practical side, Circa audience members need to know that light meals are not “express meals”. Guests often come into the restaurant late, prior to a show and ask for a light meal thinking that it will be faster than a main meal.

Wharfside Restaurant is open for meals or lighter fare before most performances at Circa Theatre. Wharfside can also cater for corporate or group events. For more information or to make a reservation, please call 801-7996.

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