When Troy Butler opened the doors of his first café, Morning Magpie, on Stuart St, Dunedin in April 2014, he didn’t even know how to poach an egg. Now one of the city's most popular breakfast and brunch destinations, especially on weekends when queues often spill out on to the street, it’s safe to say that Butler has cracked it.
Butler, 24, fell in love with hospitality at age 16 when he began work as a cleaner at a friend’s café in Christchurch. Losing his job after the earthquake, he moved to Dunedin and decided to open his own place. His other love is music and band Radiohead, hence the name Morning Magpie and that of his newer café, Wolf at the Door (which opened in October 2015) are taken from titles of Radiohead songs.
What is special about Morning Magpie, a former second-hand store that also sold fudge, and Wolf at the Door, a former tearoom, is the casual homely ambience, friendly banter and similar menus.
“For Morning Magpie I wanted it to feel like a lounge,” Butler says.
“If you want fine dining service you won’t get it. It’s very casual but friendly casual.”
During the fit-out of Morning Magpie friends pitched in to help paint the high stud ceiling. Butler also did a lot of “op shopping” to deck the space out with an eclectic mix of retro furniture, second-hand books, artwork and cutlery.
Buying a coffee roaster was the main reason Butler opened Wolf at the Door –he needed somewhere to put it.
“I was looking for a garage space and then this came up... and now it’s turned into a café,” Butler says.
The fit-out for Wolf at the Door is retro/modern. A Radiohead-inspired mural dominates the main wall, while wooden floorboards from a former local school have been used for the long table top and counter over which hang industrial lights. Comic books are available for reading as well as the morning paper. The coffee roaster snuggled in the corner near the kitchen is put to good use, house roasting Fairtrade organic coffee.
Food is mostly made from scratch and produce sourced locally: bread is baked daily at Carroll St for both cafés, as well as its now- legendary pinwheels and slices. All bacon and salmon is cured and smoked on-site. Every Saturday Butler goes to the local farmers' market to buy eggs and greens. Most of the baking is gluten-free and vegan – but it’s better not to tell people unless they ask, laughs Butler, as sometimes that puts them of