Dinner and a movie? Why not!
An easy 90-minute drive north from New Zealand’s capital city, Masterton is a busy provincial centre at the heart of the Wairarapa district. Wairarapa’s mild climate, burgeoning wine industry, arts festivals and local food focus draws city dwellers for a weekend respite, or for the more fortunate, a permanent move.
The path to the success
Sixteen years ago, this charming region wove its spell on Travis and Eve Clive-Griffin, who left behind successful hospitality careers in the UK, Melbourne, and Queenstown. In nearby Greytown, the couple established their award- winning Saluté Tapas Restaurant and Bar, which they ran with great success for many years. Travis’s Lebanese heritage can still be seen here, influencing many of the ingredients and flavour combinations, and the focus on fresh, lively flavours and seasonal ingredients.
The path to their latest venture, The Screening Room and Eatery in Masterton, was not a conventional one. Travis had been asked by Dave Borman, developer and owner of the new Kuripuni Village development to consult on kitchen design for the planned café, attached to a luxury two-screen cinema within the complex. According to Travis and Eve, Masterton was crying out for an establishment that offered something new and different in the dining and entertainment area. And they could see that there was a demand for movies other than the Hollywood blockbusters the nearby multiplex featured. It was an opportunity the couple could not pass by.
Not your typical kitchen
As a result, instead of just consulting on the layout and equipment of a typical café kitchen, the couple negotiated with Kuripuni Village’s owner to run the café. Before long, they had sold their Greytown restaurant and were preparing to take on the new venture – with Travis as chef in the new kitchen, and with Eve her accustomed front-of-house, accounts and marketing role. They also both share the job of managing and operating the two movie theatres.
Despite Travis’s involvement in the original layout of the small galley-style kitchen, the vision had now changed. Instead of the typical café serving predominantly cabinet food that the owner had envisaged, Travis and Eve wanted to continue the successful tapas- style cuisine that their Greytown restaurant was famous for. Their vision also meant that cinema patrons could take shared plates, wine and coffee into the theatres. More kitchen space was needed to meet the demands of up to 130 diners, inside and out, plus food and drink for cinema-goers. Eventually, this was resolved by creating new preparation and storage space under the stairs to the theatres.
From the initial consultation through to The Screening Room Cinema and Eatery opening its doors in November 2017, the project took six months. Masterton locals and visitors alike can now enjoy this busy, sophisticated, state-of- the-art cinema and lively, modern restaurant that caters to a diverse range of tastes.
In the kitchen
To select the right equipment, the couple travelled to the Fine Food Australia exhibition in Melbourne, where they were impressed by Moffat’s range of equipment they saw in use on their stand. They were particularly interested in combi steamer ovens and convection ovens, which they had not used before, and were excited to see the benefits of this technology for their specific application. They are now enjoying the benefits of a Turbofan Combi EC40M7, after in-house training organised by BCE Catering Equipment owner Neil Thomson, who was the major kitchen equipment supplier to the project. Travis also chose a gas twin pan fryer, a gas griddle, a gas chargrill and a gas six-burner oven range from the Blue Seal Evolution Series.