Aucklandâs hottest culinary duo jumped into the local hospitality scene with their pop-up diner La PĂȘche, before opening the sleek Bar Celeste. Folksy East Street Hall was hot on its heels, followed by organic wine store, Star Superette. And thereâs more to come.
In the space of a year and a half, Emma Ogilvie and Nick Landsman have built somewhat of a hospitality empire in the bustling neighbourhood of Aucklandâs Karangahape Road. Off the back of their sell-out La PĂ©che pop-up dining events, the couple opened their first permanent restaurant, Bar CĂ©leste in late 2019. Last year, they transformed an old Samoan church into East Street Hall, a canteen-style bar, restaurant and event space.
Soon after, they branched out into retail, opening their own boutique liquor store, Star Superette. Achieving that much in such a short space of time is impressive to say the least. But for Ogilvie, who grew up with a Tongan mum who was famous for her generosity and huge dinner parties, hospitality is a natural inclination. âIt runs in my veins. Island culture is extremely hospitable â itâs about over-catering and being overly generous. Thatâs the style of hospitality we have within our restaurants.â
Ogilvie got her start in the restaurant business early, helping the chefs plate dishes and working front of house in her familyâs restaurant. After finishing her university studies, she left New Zealand to live and work in France. Itâs there where she met Landsman and the couple soon fell in love with the French way of life. While Ogilvie was working in marketing and communications, they would spend most of their free time going out to eat, visiting the local markets and hosting dinner parties in their Paris apartment.
She soon realised that she enjoyed the dinner parties more than her career, and decided to return to New Zealand and her hospitality roots. Inspired by their time in Paris, the couple set out to bring an element of French âjoie de vivreâ to the heart of Auckland.
âFor us, itâs the better way of enjoying food and wine, integrating it into your everyday life and not making a big deal out of the fact that you want to eat oysters on a Tuesday night or drink champagne,â she says.
âFor Kiwis, I think that it can sometimes be overwhelming, the idea of fancy wine or cheeses. But the idea of better living is really just taking the time to have a proper meal, sit down with a glass of wine, spend time talking to people and enjoying the little things.
This enjoyment of everyday life through good food and wine is a common thread throughout the couple’s three establishments. Bar CĂ©leste sees a rotating menu of fresh seafood, cured meats, artisan cheeses and natural, organic wine. Around the corner at East Street Hall, diners can enjoy Mediterranean fare inspired by Landsman’s Jewish roots in a casual canteen setting.
Along with good food and wine, community plays a big role in their businesses. A collaboration with friend and fellow restaurateur Henry Temple, the team were inspired by the history of the space when dreaming up the concept for East Street Hall. âIt already had that feel to it, having been a community hall. It made sense for us to continue its legacy,â says Ogilvie.
Like many Auckland suburbs, K Road has not been immune to gentrification in recent decades, with apartment blocks, offices and boutique shops transforming the landscape of the vibrant and diverse central city neighbourhood. Mindful of their place in the community, Ogilvie and the team wanted to hold on to the community-feel and âcity gritâ that first attracted them to the neighbourhood.
During the day, relax in East Streetâs sunny courtyard with a glass of natural wine and Israeli flatbreads. Stay long enough and youâll see the space transform into a dance floor with late-night DJs playing to revellers into the wee hours. âWe felt there was a real need for more spaces where people feel comfortable to come and dance, eat and drink,â says Ogilvie. âIt felt really important that East Street Hall was within that same vein of thinking, in that it wasnât exclusive at all.â
Built in the space of an old dairy, just around the corner from East Street, Star Superette is Ogilvie and Landsmanâs latest venture, one that was born out of the COVID-19 lockdown. When people couldnât go out to eat or drink, they decided to create an at-home offering. âWe wanted to grow our brand beyond the walls of a restaurant and reach people at home to continue that mission of getting people to drink better,â she says.
With a curated selection of natural, organic wines and a monthly wine club subscription with tasting notes, Star Superette is part retail shop, part wine tasting guide, offering a way into the world of natural wine without the fuss and pretension. âI always found it hard to get into wine in the first place,â says Ogilvie. âThe wine industry is notoriously elitist and masculine, so we wanted to make it feel more approachable and even a bit feminine sometimes and really open it up. Through Star Superette, our thinking was that we could help people in their own time get into wine, realise what an amazing thing it is and build on their own cultural knowledge at home.”
After running on adrenaline for the past year and a half, Ogilvie says they are now hoping to settle and focus on building what they have started with their three ventures. Does this mean there wonât be another new eatery, bar or store popping up around the corner? âWe’ve still got a million ideas as well,â she laughs. âI donât think the ideas are going to stop.â