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Come dine with us .. . New Waitaki Cafe and Diner owners Paul Hoglund and Audra Porter. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

New Waitaki Cafe and Diner owners Paul Hoglund and Audra Porter plan to reinvigorate the North End eatery, which they believe has the potential to thrive.

The couple, from Christchurch, took over the diner about three weeks ago.

Mr Hoglund has a background in the food industry, having worked for several years at a small company owned by Hellers smallgoods, making sauces and jams. He also worked for more than 20 years at ice cream factories in Christchurch and has worked in the wine industry.

Mrs Porter, who most recently worked as a cleaner, spent several years working at fish and chip shops and other eateries.

Mr Hoglund said the fact his wife had family in Oamaru influenced their decision to move south, as did the chance to get out and do a bit of fishing on the lakes, but admitted buying a business was not on the radar to start with.

“We were wanting to buy a house and get jobs down here, but we didn’t really see a lot of jobs where we were in Christchurch. We saw this place and decided we would buy it.”

While daunting to start with, the couple’s first few weeks at the diner had gone well so far, Mrs Porter said.

“It’s had its ups and downs, but we’re getting on task now.”

Changes were planned, both to the diner’s decor and menu.

“I do really want to give it a revamp, but that comes back to money as well and it takes time.

“We want some new carpet and new lino – give it a nice overhaul.

“With the menu, we’re pretty much keeping it the same. but adding a few tweaks to it. The food will be a lot fresher and a lot more presentable to eat.”

She believed the diner had the potential to be hugely successful, as it was when it was named the Detroit Diner several years ago.

Even though the name has changed, it’s still known affectionately as “the Detroit”.

“Potentially, it could be [successful]. It’s just getting the traffic that comes in .. we do rely on people passing buy and we have a lot of industry out here too, so there’s the potential from that.”

Mr Hoglund was confident of success.

“We’d really like to tidy it up and see it humming like it was back in the Detroit days.”