Oamaru woman Tracie Meechan is the new owner of Steam Cafe. Reporter Tyson Young pops in to chat with Tracie about her new business.
Where do you hail from, Tracie?
I actually come from Australia originally but I’ve lived here for 27 years. I first lived in Dunedin for five years, and then Invercargill for five years, where my husband and I ran our own little food business down there. We then had our kids and decided to spend time with them. We then moved up here for work. I worked at the Moeraki Boulders for 10 years and the Hampden Tavern, where I was working both days and nights. After that I got a job making coffees at New World in Oamaru, before I took over this place.
How long have you worked in the hospitality industry for?
I’ve worked in the industry for about 30 years.
How did you start off in the hospitality industry?
I actually started out on a grill at a fish and chip shop. That would’ve been my first job. Since working there, I’ve pretty much kept in the industry ever since. It actually takes a level head to really be able to handle the pressure of working in hospitality and I think I just manage to have that. When I came to New Zealand, I got a cake-finisher’s job at what used to be the Octagon Bakery in Dunedin.
What made you want to purchase Steam Cafe?
One day my husband and I walked in and took a look around. We knew the previous owners wanted out, and I could just see the place needed a bit more love and a bit more spark – it just needed the life brought back in. It’s such a cool little place. It’s got so much potential.
What’s it like being your own boss?
It’s hard work and long hours, but I can skive off when I want to, and nobody’s going to tell me off, ha ha. There’s a lot to it, but it’s good. It’s a nice opportunity to grow.
How have things been so far?
It’s good. It’s just getting busier and busier and busier, which is fantastic. We’ve got some really good staff and some really good recipes. It had a really good backbone to start with. We’ve just freshened it up and modernised it a bit. The future is bright. There’s a lot of plans to work us into the tourism industry. We want the locals to love Oamaru, we want the tourists to love Oamaru, and we want to make it a great place to be.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to hang out with my grandkids – I love my grandkids. I also like to go out to cafes. We are so lucky around here at the level of cafes – they’re good cafes. We know the competition is hot and we want to be a part of that, because it’s all good for Oamaru. We don’t have to steal it all – we just have to help promote it.
If you could catch up with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Terry Pratchett because he was an amazing writer and always my favourite – I was sad when he died. I would love to ask him lots of questions.
If you were prime minister for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do and why?
If I was prime minister, I would make it compulsory to have mental health and nutrition education emplaced in primary schools.