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Even on the worst days, turning up to work at the Podium Café overlooking Lake Karāpiro is “something special” say owners Kim Lee and Ali Foers.

Podium Café at the Lake Karapiro Domain is the third business initiative for the pair that started with professional catering company Gourmet Delicious in 2006 and was followed by them opening a popular café, Suburban Kitchen in Cambridge in 2015.

However, launching Podium Café has been the most challenging.

The pair navigated the resource consent and building process and had to design a café that would fit in with the environment and other buildings like the impressive Sir Don Rowlands Rowing Centre at the domain.

“We’ve invested a lot of time and money, and we’re very proud of what we have achieved,” says Kim.

“It’s a lovely place to be. There’s always something going on the lake. Even on a horrible day their is something appealing about the lake and the white caps.”

Kim and Ali are proud graduates of the Small Business Management and Applied Business Growth programme delivered by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

"We loved our course. Through Te Wānanga Aotearoa we gained confidence in our ability to make informed decisions," says Kim.

In 2014 they enrolled in the CSBM course, and it was here that their direction started to develop as they focused working on their business rather in it, which they admit was both exciting and scary.

The pair say tutor Rosalie Lunson was a mine of information and the people we met were inspiring. 

"Having both of us on the same page attending the course made a difference," says Ali.

"We started looking at each step of the detailed business plan we were developing and to hear other individuals going through the same highs and lows, we all could relate."

Patronage has grown beyond expectations since Podium Café opened last September as word of the Lake Karāpiro café which is open seven days a week has spread. The cedar wood building has indoor and outdoor dining options and also has a liquor licence

The name Podium originated from a desire to represent all sporting endeavours that attract people to Lake Karāpiro, not just rowing which it is internationally renowned for.

“We didn’t want to associate the café with just one sport, there are many other water sports out here and cycling. We thought Podium fitted fairly well.”

After working the busy Christmas Holiday period, Kim and Ali are taking a few days off, their first break from their business interests since 2016, but will be back at the Podium Cafe for the 2018 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Waka Ama Sprint Nationals this week.

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