The story behind the Brendan Burger

Burger 2

Although we are not part of WOAP this year we do still have a burger on the menu for you to enjoy.

Back in July, we challenged the chefs a to come up with a burger to be featured on our winter menu. They had to present a recipe and costing, then prep and cook the burger. One burger would be chosen for the new menu.

We invited Julie Clark of Loretta and Floriditas and Ruth Pretty of Ruth Pretty Catering to be our celebrity judges. They got to taste and rate each of the burgers.

Our judges Ruth Pretty and Julie Clark

Each of the chefs had to present their burger to the judges and talk them through their inspiration, the name of the burger, the ingredients and preparation of the burger.

After sampling and scoring each of the burgers, Brendan’s burger was chosen.


The Brendan Burger – jerk chicken, tomato, cos, red onion and mango ginger relish with fries and aioli.



Where are they now? Part 3

Stephen Keith – General Manager Extraordinaire


Steve Keith worked at Astoria for 12 long years. He started as Shift Manager, managing evenings, then became General manager. To date Steve is our longest serving GM. Steve became part of the fabric of Astoria and was loved by both staff and customers alike. We loved his sense of humor and no-nonsense approach to managing. We still miss you Steve and look forward to your visit in the next few days!

Here is what Steve has to say;

Age;  47

When did you work at Astoria;  2002 – 2014

What position were your employed in?
Started as evening Shift Manager, became General Manager in 2003

Where are you now?
Living in Chile in a small southern city called Valdivia. Working as an assistant for Pew Trusts helping with logistics for Global Ocean Legacy.

Do you have a funny story from your days at Astoria;
When I first started working for “the girls” I was a duty night manager and on one of my shifts I decided it was so slow I had the power to close early and no one would know, and of course this night the girls were out and came back thru the cafe and told me in no uncertain terms that we DON’T close early for any reason. First lesson learned about the girls, they see everything !!!

Happy Birthday Astoria you rock !!

img-814173200-0001Steve with his Mamas, Janice and Sue
steve w hannahs baby
Steve with Hannah’s baby.

Where are they now? – Part 2

Sarah Kerr – Cafe Manager 1999 – 2003


Many of you will remember Sarah Kerr not only from her days as Shift Manager and Front of House Manager at Astoria, but also from her time running Anise, our beautiful restaurant in Cuba Street back in the mid 2000’s. Sarah was always full of energy and great fun to work with. Our Astoria customers loved her. Thanks for all your great work and the fun we had.

Sarah is about to have her second baby any day now – very exciting.

Here is what she has to say;

Name; Sarah Deans (or if you prefer, Sarah Kerr).

Age;  40  eek!

When did you work at Astoria? In 1997 for 6 months then came back for more punishment from 1999 – 2003.

What position were you employed in? Café Manager.

Where are you now?  I’m still in Wellington, married and the mummy to a 2 year old boy Sebastian.  Bless!

What do you do now work-wise?  I manage the HR for Beef + Lamb New Zealand.  It’s a pretty cool job but in case you are wondering, yes I do miss hospo every so often.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:  I still can make a mean espresso coffee althought it’s been years, it’s actually just like riding a bike.

Do you have a funny story from your Astoria days or memory that you would like to share?

Where to start?  Some of the funniest stories are definitely unprintable!  But, every day had something hysterical which was just the way we rolled back then. The great customers who became friends, the work mates who became best friends (some even became husbands and wives) and bosses who treated us like family.

The after hours montepulciano d’abruzzo sessions, The epic Friday nights, when the park was overflowing and we went through cases of Corona and played the K&D sessions on repeat. The buzz after a massive day and cracking records on the till. The LOVE BOAT party and THAT dance!!!!  Go Jenny, Johnny and George! THAT DRESS!!!! ha ha ha!!!!!

the dance

Sarah with Jonny Roe, Jenny Cummings & George Bowler in front.

Birthday greeting;

Happy 20th B-Day Astoria.  You are still the best place I’ve ever worked.  I’m not quite sure how you did it but you managed to employ the best people and were generous, fun and didn’t take any shit all at the same time. Here’s to the next 20  at which point you’ll have to make the gaps between the tables bigger so your zimmer frames don’t knock the customers chair legs and annoy the pants off them.

But seriously, to Sue and Janice …thank you so much for being such awesome bosses.  You taught me so much (soppy soppy!!!) and so much of what you taught me I still use today.  You two rock.

And of course the A team back then; George, Johnny, Corrie, Jenny, Annika, Lucy, Nadia, Jonny, Rachel, Sarah G (Sezza!!!), James P, Greta, John… too many to name but many more.

Reunion time!

sarah kerr deans
Sarah with her son Sebastian, his fist day at Creche.

Meet Peppa


This is Peppa, she is half Berkshire and half Large White. She is 8 months old and lives in Horokiwi where she free-ranges, sharing a paddock with two calves and an assortment of hens and chickens. The Astoria kitchen saves fruit and vegetable scraps for Peppa which get collected several times a week by Lou. Peppa is thriving on Astoria’s organic waste. She is a very happy pig, sociable and affectionate. She loves nothing better than a good rub, as seen here with Lou. Peppa will have her first litter next summer, we will keep you posted.

Designing & building Astoria


The original concept drawings for Caffe Astoria were by John Duncan at Smoked Hoki.  The actual fit-out and design was completed by Stuart Gardyne and Nina Wale-Wilson of Architecture +  who brought our vision to reality.

We were lucky to work with some great people while designing and constructing Astoria, our architects included. Russell and Ainsley from Thonet designed the banquette seating, which we still believe is the most comfortable in town. Bill Martell from Metalogeny designed the grill work above the chef’s bar and the outdoor and interior wall light fittings. The design of the lights was based on some we had seen at Cafe Brasileira in Braga, Portugal (see our previous post). Our gorgeous mirrors were handcrafted by David at Exhibit A. Bruce Tanner was our amazing plumber who worked with us for years until Peter Jackson etc. stole him from us (no hard feelings).



We have included some photos of the construction which took place during December 1995 and January 1996.

Happy Birthday Astoria



On Saturday  23rd January 2016 Astoria will have been in business for 20 years.

We will have been open for 7240 days. That is 86,880 hours in total.

During that time we have looked after approximately 7,240,000 customers .

Wow. How’s that for numbers?