By PHILIP CHANDLER
The founders of Queenstown’s award-winning Vudu cafe have sold, but the new owners aren’t changing the winning recipe.
Locals Michelle Freeman, Chris Vile and Rae Ellis have sold their Rees Street business to Christchurch-based entrepreneur Kevin Yan and wife Michelle Li.
Chinese-born Yan, who owns a Chinese restaurant in Christchurch, quips his first comment to Vudu staff was, ‘no, I’m not going to sell kung pao chicken here’.
The couple took over Tuesday but aren’t reopening till Immigration New Zealand transfers staff work visas to their company.
Yan, who’s undertaken Queenstown property transactions, says Vudu’s vendors are ‘‘probably the most successful cafe operators in the whole South Island, if you ask me’’.
‘‘They’re handing over a very successful business, now it’s up to me to actually keep it going, keep the good name.’’
He was approached to buy the business by local Tourism Properties.com broker Adrian Chisholm.
‘‘I’m going to be here for the next few months and hopefully, with the help of my friends, I can find a manager, and I will then come every couple of weeks.’’
The vendors, who retain their other local cafe, Bespoke Kitchen, opened Vudu Cafe & Larder 10 years ago.
They’d already owned the original Vudu, in nearby Beach St, since ‘97, but that shut about five years ago when their building was re-developed.
‘‘We want to extend a massive ‘thank you’ to all our customers and the huge number of staff who have worked with us at Vudu through the years — the loyalty and support has been amazing,’’ Ellis says.
‘‘We’ve loved being part of the town centre and the community here and are sad to be leaving Vudu.
‘‘However, as a team, we are excited for the future ahead, focusing on our Isle St cafe, Bespoke Kitchen, and some other new projects.
‘‘We wish the new Vudu owners all the best.’’