Cinnamon Cafe in the News

In the Burbs

Nourish Waikato Spring 2017 edition - 4 September 2017

Hamilton has a trove of cafe gems dotted through its suburbs. From well-loved local favourites to newer establishments bringing greater diversity, the city's café culture appetite is certainly well catered for. Nourish caught up with the people behind some of the most interesting eateries around town...


Cinnamon Café: Good Food, Good Vibes and Plenty of Sunshine

You'll hear the hum of Cinnamon Cafe before you see it, a hive of activity buzzing with good music and staff dancing as they work.

Cinnamon is five years old and it's the local favourite in the suburb of St Andrews. It's the work of owners Amy Hodgson and Charlie Duncan, who have plenty of hospitality experience between them. They also own Crudo, close by Cinnamon in St Andrews. Crudo is the city's newest spot for exquisite dining in an intimate setting, and it has won a place in this year's Cuisine's Top 100 restaurant list.

Cinnamon's open lounge setting and its signature "consistent comfort food done quickly" has made it a neighbourhood staple, along with Amy's "envelope of happiness" service that she says is one of the most important elements of a successful hospitality venture.

Amy and Charlie met 20 years ago when Charlie was head chef at Le Grand Hotel in Hamilton. Le Grand was Amy's first hospitality job, after being nudged by her grandmother to give it a try. She fell in love with the industry and this led to eight years of travelling, managing luxury resorts and restaurants across Europe. She says she learned "it doesn't matter what language you speak, people know when they're being taken care of-it's the dinner and a show element".

Charlie and Amy have two young children, two young businesses, and a shared love of hospitality. Amy says Cinnamon is vibrant and fast-paced while Crudo is where she gets to extend her love of intimate, flavour-driven fine dining at a much slower pace.
They bring complementary strengths to their businesses. Says Charlie: ''I'm out there with the ideas and Amy brings me back to earth."

They say their success is down to surrounding themselves with the right staff. People romanticise the hospitality industry but it is hard work, and they need people who are passionate about it.

So choosing staff is key. Says Amy: "People love working here, it's their happy place and the customers feel it.”  She says staff members are as much a part of Cinnamon as she and Charlie are. "They know the names of our customers and will have their coffees waiting for them before they even get inside the door."

Charlie says 80 per cent of Cinnamon's customers come in every day; they come for the banter, laughter, consistency and community feel.

Everything on Cinnamon's menu is a favourite, tried and true comfort food with some flavourful extras like the spicy harissa marinated chicken and Amy's personal favourite, the ramen bowl. Its rich, warm broth is perfect for crisp spring days.

The cabinet is packed with bright salads and home-baking. It's all made from scratch and overseen by head chef Virginia, who's been at Cinnamon since it opened.

"It's really the community that owns Cinnamon," says Charlie. "People call it 'their place'."

Or, in Amy's words, "it's your local pocket of good vibes and sunshine".

Amy and Charlie

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table at cinnamon


Come for the coffee, stay for the food. The Cinnamon Café is a popular brunch spot in the suburbs, serving up plenty of sweet and savoury dishes to satisfy all palates.
Many of its food items can be adapted to suit gluten free dietary requirements, and those that aren't so malleable are clearly marked as such on the menus.
Vegetarians are also well catered for, with corn fritter stacks and quesadillas being among the key must-tries for lunchtime visitors.