The Frog and Lily is a charming café down Waiuku way. Having heard that it is really worth a visit, Verve sent their roving reporter to find out more. Cushla Arbuckle, who owns and operates The Frog and Lily, took time out of her day to chat to us.
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to own this place?
After owning a hotel in Kawhia I moved to Tokoroa where I purchased a closed café on a whim and took on the challenge to make it work.And it did.I eventually sold this award winning café, Rumbly Tums, and moved north to pursue a bigger challenge with my daughter Tamar.
What inspired you to call this café ‘The Frog and the Lily’?
Through the ideas floating around for names we discovered that both mine and Tamar’s favourite flowers are arum lilies and I have a love of frogs. Both of which are abundant here at the water gardens, so it ran together well.
Tell us more about The Frog and the Lily.
The Frog and Lily is a destination café where we try to provide a point of difference. Being rural we need a reason for people to make the trip to see us.
We have warm and welcoming staff, we make our own fudge on site, we have artisan (rolled) ice cream, we have chickens, turkeys, alpacas, turtles and a playground for the kids.
We have a nursery where you can buy water lilies and lotus in season, a selection of aquatic plants as well as a variety of locally made retail products. We also boast great views over the garden while you are dining.
We have three event spaces: the café area, our wedding lawn and our summer house which sits facing the Mauku waterfall. We hire out and can cater in any of these areas.
Your café is, I am told, the gateway to Wrights Water Gardens.
Yes, our café is the first stop before you can enter six acres of garden. We are very significant to each other. The garden attracts tourists who want to see the waterlilies and lotus and also the amazing Mauku waterfall.
And in turn, the gardens provide us with customers. People come for the great food and coffee and then spend time in the gardens. All areas are also dog friendly.
How have you had to adjust your business following Covid-19?
We are in the process of redoing our website so we can sell our fudges and catering online.
Tell us about the menu and recommendations.
We have a great selection on our menu, ranging from classics (lambs fry and bacon) to more modern fare (chicken waffles). We recommend it all.
We also have a selection of cabinet food, including some gluten friendly and dairy free and keto options too. Our high teas are proving popular also (vegan high tea menu available on request).
How do you take time out from work?
Because the business is so new and due to the effect of Covid-19 at this stage there is no time out. But I am a keen golfer and artist.
Plans for the rest of the year and early next?
Christmas carols, an easter egg hunt, our new summer menu and evening dining, a new website with online sales, lots of weddings, and please diarise our Doggy Day Out on 18th October 2020.