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Wellington’s food businesses champion new Island Bay talent

5 Dec 2018

Betsy 13

Competition can be tough for restaurant newcomers, but this wasn’t the case for modern deli Betsy in Wellington’s serene Island Bay.

Despite Statistics NZ’s estimates that just over half of new ventures survive the first three years, people in the capital’s hospitality scene and food industry can be extremely welcoming to promising start-ups, says Betsy’s owner Jessica Donaldson.

She experienced this first-hand when she opened the café in May 2018.

Betsy has quickly made a name for itself, not only for the beautiful baking and delicious deli meals all made on site, but also for the local products it sells.

These come from all over Wellington, including Peoples Coffee in Newtown, Kelburn’s Libertine Blends tea, and Te Aro’s Six Barrel Sodas and Esther’s pickles and preserves. There’s bread from the Shelly Bay Baker, milk and cheese from Zany Zeus in Petone and KB Kombucha in Lower Hutt. Plus there’s Nela’s Chai, made in Island Bay.

Donaldson found that these local suppliers and producers were all hugely helpful in establishing her own business, from giving her great advice to promoting Betsy via their own Instagram posts.

"It never really occurred to me that other food businesses would be so supportive, or giving of their precious time and knowledge,” says Jessica.

“I've been overwhelmed by the great people I've met since we started planning our baby.

"I think we're all just collectively proud to be a small part of something so awesome - the Wellington food scene. It's really tough starting out in so many ways, so why wouldn't you want to help someone else out that might be trying to navigate their way through something you've already made it through?"

For Jessica, it made sense to open Betsy in Island Bay.

A former Island Bay local herself, Jessica returned to Wellington in 2017 after living in Auckland and Marton and is thrilled to be back in a neighbourhood she has fond memories of.

Growing up, her parents owned several restaurants, bars and bakeries. Her father was a baker, and some of his recipes are now mainstays at Betsy – like the mouth-watering Doug’s Ginger Crunch. Jessica would help out after school, and that’s what sparked her keen interest as a baker. She’s also worked in a variety of establishments like hotel restaurants, delis, cafes and wine bars.

Betsy will continue to have a strong focus on using local suppliers and organic products wherever possible, says Jessica.

“My food philosophy is first and foremost driven by my love of eating. I love real, seasonal food made from scratch. 

“We want to showcase the amazing food and drinks that are being made right here in Wellington. We love talking to and working with producers who are enthusiastic and passionate about what they’re making.”

Jesse Finn, Peoples Coffee’s marketing manager says Jessica’s dream for Betsy resonated with their values.

“She wanted to do a few things, really well and with a focus on sustainable practices - and she and her team have more than achieved that goal,” says Jesse.

“The hospitality industry is a tough one and I think there's definitely camaraderie between businesses in Wellington - we get how hard it is, how hard you have to work.

“The way we support the cafes and restaurants that we work with is pretty wide-ranging but particularly in the early stages of them getting off the ground we try and offer as much business support as possible - this might be advice, help with design, hook-ups for gear and so on. Then, as they find their feet, we will just try and celebrate their successes - whether that's through social media or just by going in and supporting their trade and hanging out.”

Esther Lewis, founder and owner of Esther’s, says Betsy puts ‘real food’ at the heart of the menu.  

"These are classic favourites done well, with plenty of savoury options and gorgeous sweets.”

Ready for beautiful baking, great coffee and seasonal, freshly made meals? Betsy is open five days a week – Tuesday to Friday: 7:30am – 3pm, and Saturday: 8am – 3pm.

BETSY 221 THE PARADE, ISLAND BAY 04 213 9972

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