Totally Frank's: Aaron and Tori Lethbridge in their newly-opened fifth Frank's cafe, Coco Cabana by Frank's


A hospitality operator’s seemingly taking over Queenstown’s cafe/deli scene one flat white at a time.

Less than four years after opening Frank’s Eatery, in Remarkables Park’s Ramada Hotel, Frank’s Hospitality Group’s about to open a sixth outlet.

Last month it opened its fifth venue, Coco Cabana by Frank’s, in the Ramada Central hotel.

Around late next month it’s opening 11th by Frank’s, its largest offering, in the Kawarau Park precinct behind the Queenstown Country Club retirement village.

Originally, each outlet started with ‘Frank’s’, but to avoid confusion, as there are now so many, they’re all ‘… by Frank’s’.

The first four, in starting order, are Eatery by Frank’s, Pantry by Frank’s, in the nearby Wyndham Garden hotel, Go by Frank’s, a pizza outlet beside Eatery, which opens when Eatery closes, and Market by Frank’s, in the LQ by Wyndham hotel, also at Remarkables Park.

Frank’s Hospitality’s owned by couple Tori and Aaron Lethbridge, who started with a cafe in Masterton, and Safari Group owner Rob Neil, whose hotels host the first five outlets.

Aside from their pies, burgers and scones, the outlets all serve Christchurch-roasted Underground coffee.

‘‘We have a group of baristas who even get flown up to Christchurch to get regular training,’’ Frank’s Hospitality marketing & PR manager Kristel Maroszek says.

She notes many staff work at more than one outlet, which not only offers them variation,
‘‘but from a marketing point of view they get to promote other venues’’.

Neil says he takes a mentor ship and governance role.

‘‘I invest in young people, and [Tori and Aaron] are spectacular at what they do.’’

Aaron says there’s no secret to their success.

‘‘It’s all happened organically through a bit of hard work, imagination and action by creating something we are proud of, and building on that.

‘‘We never imagined we would have this many proper ties, but when you have a great
support system and great people around you, from our loyal customers to key staff and our partner, Rob Neil, it gives us the confidence and drive to grow and create something really special.’’

As for Covid’s effect, Tori says it reinforces their ‘return business’ ethos, ‘‘where we try and be so good that customers will return again and again, eliminating the reliance on tourism’’.

They’ve got through the worst of it, she adds, by offering value.