Cafe serves its last laughs

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Last orders: Outgoing Bobs Weigh owners Mary and Bob Keith

Queenstown’s only mother-son business partnership has broken up.

Pink-haired Mary Keith and her son Bob yesterday shut Bobs Weigh cafe to make way for New York-style pizza chain, Sal’s.

Bob Keith says he’s done his dash after working in the kitchen for 20 years.

He and Mary took over the business 12 years ago, and Mary, now 66, started working part-time, dishing out food and banter, six years ago.

“I had to give birth to get this job,” she quips – “thankfully, not in this cafe.”

She confesses she sometimes shocked customers. “I pay the rent, I say what I like.

“There’s no PC bullshit – if you smell, I want to tell you that.

“If they expect me to run after them, they’re in the wrong freakin’ place. They ask me to put sugar in their coffee, I say, ‘do I look like your mother?’

“My motto is, ‘you pays your money, you takes your chance’ and if you get the right order, it’s a miracle.

“If we get a return customer, we think they’re lost.”

Mary says regulations, the new minimum wage and high rents have made it a nightmare to be in business.

It’s also hard to deal with “entitled” staff, they say.

Bob: “The Gen Ys were hard enough to get going, but then the millennials coming through are just a nightmare.

“They think just showing up for work is an achievement – half of them don’t even turn up on time.”

When they started, rent was only a third of what it is today, but Mary doesn’t begrudge the landlord – “they took the risk, they bought the building”.

Asked what’s next, Mary says she might go into stand-up comedy – or stand for mayor.

Bob, deadpan, says: “We’ve taken an interest in taxidermy, so if anybody’s got an old pet that’s on its last legs ….”

“Or old ducks,” Mary chimes in.

scoop@scene.co.nz