Transforming a run-down café into a thriving establishment is a dream for many, but it takes more than inspiration and a lick of paint to turn that dream into a reality. Milani Thompson and Carole Stadler have managed to realise their own vision in the shape of Artisan Café in Rotorua.

Artisan Café might be a small business in a small city, but Thompson and Stadler like to think big.

“We make everything on the premises,” said Thompson, co-owner and chef. “Our catchphrase is ‘Handmade with love and care’. We do full breakfast and lunch, sauces from scratch, baking on the premises, cakes and slices. We don’t purchase anything pre-cooked. It’s a lot of work but I love it.”

Love is one word that comes up a lot when you talk to the duo. Passion is another. Friends for years, they shared a background in hospitality and a desire to create something personal and fulfilling. “I don’t see this as a job, it’s a passion,” said Thompson. “I decided to leave my job in January because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted an outlet to express more of myself. We both did.”

“We bought an old, rundown café, and knew it needed so much more than a vision to get it up and running. There was a lot of updating required and we didn’t have the funds to pay for all of the equipment we needed so we had to look elsewhere.

“The Silver Chef application process was easy and straightforward, they did most of it over the phone and through email. We bought what we needed to, and the rest we let Silver Chef sort for us on a short rental agreement.”

The pair would both recommend Silver Chef without a doubt. One of the aspects that both owners found particularly reassuring was the option to phone Silver Chef at any time and upgrade their equipment. “It’s a relief knowing we’re not tied down to something and we can change as we grow without taking unmanageable risks,” said Thompson.

Artisan Café opened in April 2016, coinciding with Thompson’s birthday, and has quickly become a local favourite and a hit with the many tourists who visit Rotorua. “It’s been a leap of faith, but it’s been worth it,” said Stadler.

“We’re part of a big tourist town so we have a lot of visitors coming through but also a large local customer base. It’s awesome when you know half the people because they’ve become regulars and they’re becoming our friends.”