a decent conversation with Tom's.
Down in the beautiful Ōtautahi are two spots that are a must-visit. The iconic Tom's and their new spot Estelle's serve the finest sandos, toast combinations and baked goods. The calm and welcoming spaces are perfect place to enjoy a good coffee and meal. Keep an eye out for their take on the nostalgic countdown pink buns.
We chat with owner Tom about How Tom's came about, their new spot Estelles, things to do around Ōtautahi and more....
(Photo by Sarah Rowlands)
Hey Tom, thanks for chatting with us. Firstly, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the amazing hospo world?
Hey decent packaging :) I am a happy, proud, queer man from Ōtautahi and have lived here most of my life. I live by myself in a cute one bedroom apartment in Richmond and am excited to be in this incredible, alive city full of wonderful people. I sort of fell into hospo life after completing a degree in musical theatre; in between gigs on stage and a year living in Sydney, I learnt how to make a good coffee and got really into cooking at home. Fast forward a few years past my small business, Meatball Monday, and an iconic year managing Frances Nation Grocer, and I am here with two cafes, Tom’s and Estelle - a bit mind blowing!
What’s your daily coffee order?
You’d most likely find me with an oat milk flat white.
So Tom, Let’s talk about Tom’s. Can you tell our readers about your business and how it all started?
Tom’s is my sunny little sandwich shop at 36 Southwark Street in Christchurch Central. It’s the result of many years working in various hospo jobs around the city and finally feeling inspired to make my own mark in the Christchurch scene. It’s a very personal space to me; the offering is small but delicious, and inspired by my lunchbox growing up (I’m looking at you, peanut butter sammie and Countdown pink buns).
We love your branding and bright blue interiors. Can you tell us the inspiration behind the design choices at Toms?
Thank you! I love them, too. I walked past a blue garage door near my house one day and thought ‘that one’. James Irvine of Semi Creative did the rest, designing a very slick and fun place to smash a sandwich and piece of cake from Cakes by Anna. My favourite places are usually small so it was exciting to find my little spot and bring it to life with colour and interesting materials like the perforated steel. I love when the banquette seat is full of happy coffee drinkers and I also love that when I can’t find room for my 10kg bag of flour I can put it under the lift-up squabs. The happy, bold branding was designed by Will Vink (Limited Company). I really did not imagine having such a good looking spot.
What’s your current favourite item on the menu at Tom’s?
Egg, smoked provolone and mayo bun - it has been that since the day we opened.
What made you decide to use sustainable packaging like ours?
It’s no news that the planet is in trouble and I think that everyone working in an industry where ‘takeaway’ is a daily offering has a responsibility to ensure they are doing this in the most green way possible. Big shout out to Prima Roastery who provide us with a bin and collection service for our green waste and any used compostable packaging.
On your days off how do you spend your days off around in Ōtautahi?
I can usually be found having coffee at Frances Nation Grocer, a wine at Salut Salut or beer and chips at Pomeroys. Sometimes if I’m in a bad mood I take myself to the Hikari sushi train in Riverside Market. It’s mostly food related things that come to mind but I also love to put on something shiny and boogie with my friends, and I’m probably having a bad week if I haven’t gone for a couple of runs around Hagley Park.
We would love to talk about your new exciting venture opening soon…. Estelle.
(Photo by Sarah Rowlands)
Firstly congrats! How did this come about?
Estelle is Tom’s (slightly more) lush sibling, the one you get to do the ordering when you’re out for dinner. Estelle wasn’t planned for 2023 or maybe ever, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to take over the existing cafe space in QB Studios (also on Southwark St) when it came along in February. Estelle is the name of my cute little niece. That’s the story, really!
What goodies will you be serving there?
The kitchen is lead by Will Lyons-Bowman (Vita Wines) and we offer a luscious toast menu (think whipped tahini and honey, mince and cheese or white bean, salsa verde and za’atar), two daily salads and sweeter bits like maritozzi (Italian cream buns), butter cake and polenta cookies. If you’re lucky you might find some tiramisu in the cabinet, too!
Thanks for chatting with us Tom, we can't wait to visit both spots again soon.