One year ago, as our country moved through the Alert levels out of lockdown back to Level 1, we rediscovered the delights of having someone else prepare a meal for us. Had we ever before had such an appreciation for eating out? Of having someone else cook a meal for us and the little touches like a fern poured into the foam of your flat white or flower petals and a smattering of icing sugar across your plate?
Around the same time, on the other side of the world, in Munich to be exact, a young woman by the name of Linda Cywinski had also been prompted by Covid to ponder a few of her favourite things. At the top of her list was a return to Aotearoa, her country of birth, alongside a long-held dream to own a restaurant.
In June 2020 Linda spotted a restaurant listed for sale on the net. A grand white weatherboarded old lady on the banks of the Waimata River in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, Gisborne. Linda found herself falling in love and not long after, fourteen years after they had left, Linda returned to New Zealand with her parents and two brothers. But rather than returning to Palmerston North where she had grown up, they came to settle in Gisborne, a place none of them had ever so much as visited.
Linda admits it has been a bit of an adjustment from the fast paces of Munich, but she is grateful for the friendliness of people here, the abundance of beaches and the focus on lifestyle amongst Gisborne locals.
As for the object of Linda’s affections, the Marina Restaurant as we know it, is about to get quite the makeover… After six months of settling into her Gisborne groove and getting to know her guests, Linda is ready to make a fresh start.From July 1st the Marina Restaurant will become Globe representing a move toward a more relaxed and communal style of eating and as suggested by the name change, an International flavour. The menu will be designed around sharing plates from five continents, Europe, Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas, which will move with the seasons.
The International flavour will extend beyond the establishment’s interior towards the riverbank, where a large deck is being built to make the most of the location to house a German beer garden – finally, a place to relax with friends on the river! At the heart of the rebrand and change in direction is a desire to create a fun and relaxed environment for Gizzy’s after work crowd, with a focus on encouraging interaction between guests..long tables, tall beer handles and food made for sharing! (Although Linda assures us you can order for yourself if you prefer.)
Talking to Linda it seems this particular dream has been a long-time brewing. Growing up in New Zealand with German parents, she travelled a lot, returning to her parent’s homeland every year or two. Some of Linda’s strongest childhood memories are from these trips; staying at hotels, eating out at restaurants with family and friends, and playing at being the waitress for her fellow diners.
Linda learnt to cook at a young age and her course was truly set when she enrolled in one of the top schools for hospitality management in Europe. She did her internships at establishments with gruelling standards, where performance is measured by a stop watch as well as output. But Linda says she enjoyed the high pressure environment and reckons the crazy fast pace is the fun part of hospitality.
Gisborne patrons to the soon-to-be-opened Globe need not fear a stopwatch approach to service however. Linda is most looking forward to creating a space in which people want to linger longer, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the company of others. Ultimately this is what drives Linda’s passion for hospitality – she relishes hearing people having fun and connecting with one another and is excited about opening an establishment designed around this premise.
Marina Restaurant will close on June 5 for three weeks, reopening as The Globe on July 1 2021 with a three-day launch event, featuring live music and performers, the new menu with a couple of special cocktails and dishes to celebrate, and with a beer garden in tow. We can’t wait!
Story by Sarah Cleave
Photographs by Thomas Teutenberg