Heritage café with fresh ideas

Nestled within the historic village of Hamilton East is riverside cafe, Hayes Common.

Owners Lisa and Brent Quarrie have created quite the community hub at Hayes Common. The relaxed eatery is as popular with locals as out-of-towners for its fresh seasonal meals and dreamy location.

“We always wanted Hayes Common to feel like an extension of people’s homes. Our food is relaxed, with nods to classics with our own interesting twist,” says Lisa.

Dishes that delight include The Commoner – free-range eggs on sourdough toast with miso potatoes, thick cut bacon, crispy pork, mushrooms, garlicky chard and tomato kasundi. Or the Kapow Bao – crispy Sichuan tofu, hot and sour eggplant, crushed peanuts and coriander.

Popular baked goods include cheese scones and chai-spiced carrot cake topped with frosting, seasonal flowers and fruit.

The café takes on a lot of responsibility when it comes to dietary requirements. “Our position is to offer a range of dishes that cover all dietary requirements, whilst meeting our criteria for great flavour and presentation,” says Lisa. This includes a separate vegan menu derived from their main menu.

Lisa and Brent have both worked with food since they were teens and met while working together in Auckland.

Lisa says they were excited when the café space, with its seamless indoor-outdoor flow, became available. “Brent and I had lived in the neighbourhood for eight years before the site became available. The opportunity to operate something in our own neighbourhood was too good to pass up, especially such an iconic special site,” says Lisa.

The café’s name was born from the community’s title, Hayes Paddock. The building was built in the 1940s and placed amongst some of New Zealand’s first state houses. “We wanted to draw on that heritage. We saw the site being a community-orientated site, a common place to meet – hence the name,” says Lisa.

The contemporary interiors are also inspired by the building’s history and the site was fully renovated by the couple in 2015. Lisa says the teams at Material Creative and Area Design helped bring their vision to life. “The bright orange logo is a fun reference to the terracotta roof tiles of the houses, and inside, the use of plywood, peg board and images of the Governor Generals whose names grace the neighbourhood feature throughout,” says Lisa.

Lisa and Brent have both worked with food since they were teens and met while working together in Auckland.

Alongside the café, Lisa and Brent have launched their food truck called Whizz Bang Bao, which was inspired by their pork belly bao buns that are always on the menu.

Throughout the year Hayes Common hosts events including weddings, parties and their ‘Meet the Maker’ series that showcases local suppliers and creatives.

Lisa and Brent also work hard to reduce their environmental impact. Hayes Common uses no plastic packaging, straws or bags in-house.

Lisa says they are constantly working with their suppliers to limit the amount of plastic used. “We switched our milk supplier earlier this year to Dreamview Creamery, who are based in Raglan.

All of their milk is in glass bottles. This reduced our plastic waste by 60 per cent. We were about to launch a reusable cup trading system pre-lockdown, and hope to introduce this very soon,” says Lisa.


33 Jellicoe Drive, Hamilton

Opening hours:

Sunday-Tuesday 7:30am-3pm

Wednesday-Saturday 7:30am-3pm /5pm-9:30pm

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