Coffee Shop Groundwork Pays Off

Melissa Campbell had a vision of a rural meeting place with a community spirit where people could get a great coffee and maybe a sweet treat.

She had a plan but this savvy businesswoman made sure the odds were on her side. The first thing she did was sit in her car for hours on end counting the traffic.

She discussed her findings with her husband and they decided that if they could capture just 10 per cent of the traffic then they would have a viable business.

It was still a risk, but just 11 days after opening Red Bridge Coffee it has exceeded all her expectations.

Situated on a section owned by her husband's family just to the left of the Red Bridge on Waimarama Rd coming from Havelock North, the coffee spot has been an instant success with locals and passersby.

Melissa says she is "blown away by the support".

"It has exceeded all our expectations. I have been so busy I employed someone in my first week. I haven't really had a chance to take it all in."

To top it all off she had a celebrity call in last week.

"Al Brown rocked in the driveway. I saw this guy jump out of his car and I thought I knew him. Then it dawned on me who he was. He was staying at the beach and told me he is writing a new book.

"It was awesome to have him here. His photographer took some photos so I'm hoping they might turn up in his book. He came back the next day, ordered coffee and then posted about my free figs on social media. It was amazing."

Melissa, who hails from Palmerston North and is also a makeup artist, moved to Hawke's Bay with her husband to help on the family farm - the historic Belmount.

"When I lived in Palmerston North I was restructured out of a management position. I asked myself 'what should I do'? I did a barista course because I thought it would come in handy and then tried to get a coffee cart but missed out.

"I ended up in a job that had a coffee machine in the corner and I found myself drawn to it. I loved hanging around it and watching people smile when I made them a good coffee."

When they moved to Hawke's Bay Melissa moved into hospitality, working at Kete Kia at the Hawke's Bay airport, Wright and Co, Hawthorne Coffee and Malo Restaurant.

During this time she made connections with many people in the hospitality industry including Hawthorne Coffee owner Tom Ormond.

"That's why I went with Hawthorne coffee and because it tastes so delicious. Tom has been amazing."

Before Melissa could get her custom built container positioned on her site she did a lot of groundwork.

"First we planted the seed with the in-laws. Then researched the costing, got quotes and put down a business plan. Then I presented it to council to get consent which "involved a lot of paper work" .

Melissa says she loves seeing all the locals chatting and catching up while they get their coffee.

Melissa also sells delicious cakes made by Ash Scott Organic and Doctor feelgood Frozen Pops.

All her coffee cups and food containers are taken home and recycled.

"It's a real family affair. My husband and father-in-law do the lifting and running around and my mother-in-law does the beautiful flowers."

Christine Campbell runs the historic home and gardens at Belmont.

"I pinch myself every day. I love the Tukituki Valley and Hawke's Bay. I love waking up to tui and bellbirds. What a place It's amazing."

Red Bridge Coffee is also amazing and well worth the drive for a cup of delicious coffee, a sweet treat, a cheery smile, warm welcome and fresh county air.

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