Chrissy Whiu and John Dalzell have decided to sell their Otematata restaurant before life ‘‘runs away’’ on them.
The couple have owned CJ’s Bar and Restaurant for 17 years, and although they still loved the business, there were plenty of reasons to move on.
‘‘I lost my dad last year, on February 7, and my mum’s still very much alive, and she’s 81 and she’s in the Bay of Islands. So, while I have this [the business], I have limited time to go and be with her when I can, and when I want to,’’ Chrissy said.
Staffing issues were always a ‘‘big, big thing’’, and she also had carpal and cubital tunnel surgeries on both arms last year.
‘‘Going through this season, I’ve actually probably undone the good work . . .So the healing time for that was supposed to be a bit longer, and the business didn’t allow me to do that, and now I feel like I’ve gone backwards.’’
The restaurant had been operating in Otematata for almost 30 years, and since the pair had owned it, they had made various changes, including introducing outdoor seating, and updating the decor and the menu.
The restaurant opened only from 5.30pm to 8.30pm, and they also did much off-site catering for contractors, as well as weddings and funerals.
‘‘Funerals is my go-to thing, apparently. I’ve done about 18 of them.’’
CJ’s — named after the couple — had been on and off the market since 2016, and was listed with a real estate agent, but they had just decided to put a post up on Facebook themselves, and had been overwhelmed by the feedback they had received.
‘‘As you can tell from the comments, the relationship I have with my customers, on a personal level too. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them, they know me by first name. I have a lot of repeat business.
‘‘That’s hard to think about, not having that contact. That’s hard.’’
The business would suit someone with a lot of energy, and they thought the owner would need to live locally.
‘‘You have to buy it, work it and enjoy it. It’s a lifestyle,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s got scope for anything, just needs someone with a vision.’’
Staffing was the biggest problem at the moment. Chrissy had the help of her cousin occasionally, but only until the end of February. Her barman had also moved on, which meant 74-year-old John was behind the bar.
It was time they both got out and enjoyed time with each other, and life, she said.
‘‘I still love what I do. It’s a passion of mine, but sometimes life runs away on you. You know, I had my 40th birthday in there, and I’m closer to 60 now, than I am 40.
‘‘The thing is, the pull for home, for my mum, is greater than the need to be here.’’
The couple planned to stay in Otematata, and Chrissy had already been offered jobs.
‘‘I just want more freedom to be able to go home.’’