It's an absolute treat to bring you snippets of insight from the owners, profiling four amazing businesses in the Warehouse Precinct. A little bit of inside info directly from the inspiring, hard working creatives who are stamping their identity into this area in their own unique ways.
TODAYS INSIDER PERSPECTIVE: RIAH MCLEAN
H e r i t a g e C o f f e e
& V o g e l S t K i t c h e n
Vogel St Kitchen
Riah Mclean is the owner of the popular Vogel St kitchen, a cafe operating at 76 Vogel Street since 2014. In conjunction with building owner Lawrie Forbes, Riah renovated an 1800's printery into a cafe space that captures old world spirit and blends it with industrial modern charm.
A value for preserving history and for craftmanship can be seen in the amazing metal work, the handcrafted double glazed windows made of recycled timber and the steel and timber tables (also recycled).
It's an incredible space and developed at a time when it was a destination cafe, revealing Riah to be a savvy businesswoman with great instincts, vision and willingness to assume risk.
L e t 's h e a r f r o m R i a h:
Tell us about Vogel St Kitchen:
Vogel St Kitchen opened at the end of 2014 and my aim was to create a large, warm, casual café with an industrial edge.
It’s a destination café with a focus on friendly casual dining based around local, seasonal and simple ingredients. Our large Italian wood fired pizza oven is a point of difference and in my mind it’s always been the heart of the café (followed by the espresso machine!)
"I tend to run on instinct and I could always picture Vogel St Kitchen as this large eclectic place that had a lot of character and just made people feel at home."
What do you love about The Warehouse Precinct?
I love this area because it has such an incredibly diverse and vibrant mix of people, businesses and residents.
The atmosphere is vibrant and the buildings are gorgeous.
I was looking for the right location and premises for a café in Dunedin for quite awhile, trying to find a spot that was away from the CBD (and at that time a very “Dunedin” point of view that a business had to be on George St or the surrounds to succeed.)
I started exploring the area in 2013 and at that time it was still predominantly unpopulated with most of the beautiful heritage buildings sitting empty and unrenovated.
It felt a bit like the wild west but I liked the atmosphere.
I contacted our current landlord Lawrie as I’d been told he owned a few buildings on Vogel Street. He showed me through number 76 and that was it for me.
I loved the space and the history and the feeling inside the building.
Lawrie is a bit of a visionary and he really understood what I was wanting to do so we set about a 12 month major renovation of the premises and Vogel St Kitchen opened in December 2014.
Three and half years later, millions of dollars in building and street improvements and a range of vibrant and innovative tenants has turned the Warehouse Precinct into one of Dunedin’s top destinations.
Heritage Coffee Co
Tell us about Heritage Coffee:
Heritage Coffee was formed in my mind in response to how crazy busy VSK is and I could see a gap in the market for another smaller café, one with more polish and targeted for the ever increasing population of professionals in the area.
We signed the lease on that site (43 Jetty Street) nearly 3 years ago and it was a slow renovation on perhaps the most derelict building on the block.
It’s been done with good design principles, sensitivity and longevity in mind.
Describe the design aesthetic that inspired your design choices:
I try and leave these buildings alone as much as possible. What I mean by that is once you have the basics right, (strengthening, lay out and light), I think it does them the most justice to leave as many of the original details as you can.
I love an honest raw aesthetic anyway so designing cafes in heritage buildings is a perfect fit for me!
Heritage Coffee has a subtle mix of plush old school details like the booth seating juxtaposed with the original plaster wall finish and vintage Dunedin street lights.
I guess I like places to tell a story and I love layering raw industrial elements with pops of things that feel polished and special.
Tell us a little about people who inspire you:
There’s a handful of people in hospitality that I really respect, I love and appreciate going to a café or restaurant that feels like it has a real beating heart. When you go there it’s authentic, it’s warm, the people understand the essence of genuine hospitality and it just feels like it could be someone’s home.
Fleur Sullivan does this better than anyone, she’s poured her life into creating restaurants that people remember.
She has the “knack” of imbuing a place with a soul. That’s what I aspire to .
What's at the heart of Heritage Coffee?
Our people, they are always the most important element.
We have a small, happy team, four of them are chefs so the food is always on point and the coffee’s excellent thanks to Common Ground Espresso and Sophie our French barista.
Heritage Coffee is very classic. I wanted a café that is based around local, sustainable and simple food and it’s got a very timeless aesthetic.
This suits the building but it will also translate well if we decide to expand and do another Heritage Coffee somewhere else in Dunedin.
Dunedin is New Zealands most heritage city and I was trying to reflect that character and timelessness.
S T W S T U D I O - What we love about Heritage Coffee
Heritage Coffee & Vogel St Kitchen are both unique spaces that pack an identity punch in terms of design. Careful consideration to the details (big and small) is evident throughout each cafe with a layered effect of interesting and cohesive yet individualistic features.
These cafe's are a photographers dream, it isn't so much a question of what to shoot but what not to. Grounded with wood, steel, mortar and bricks they represent a nod to the past perfectly blended with the modern comforts of the present.
The ability to take a risk with colour and texture is obvious (note: the yellow La Marzocco @ VSK) all adding to the fusion of identity with ambience.
Of course you don't get ambience without great people and an absolute stand out at both cafe's are the staff who are always warm, welcoming and helpful creating a perfect spot to enjoy a fabulous coffee and great food.
We are sure that Heritage Coffee will join it's predecessor Vogel St Kitchen as another great success story in The Warehouse Precinct and a tribute to the vision and dedicated work of it's owner.