Buoyant buyer interest is expected as the unique business behind New Zealand’s “coolest floating coffee shop” and award-winning floating burger bar go up for sale in a South Island tourism hotspot.
Coffee Afloat and Burger Afloat have become a destination attraction offering food and refreshments from two boats amid some of the country’s best scenery on Central Otago’s Lake Dunstan. The operation, which taps a built-in clientele from the popular Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail, has been such a success, the owners have expanded with a new café at Queenstown’s Frankton Marina.
The Coffee and Burger Afloat business has its origins in the first national Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. When the country’s borders slammed shut, closing the gate on foreign tourist clients for business owners Richard and Jolanda Foale’s Cromwell helicopter sightseeing company, the couple completed a stunning pivot to start a new enterprise.
They turned their minds to creating a coffee shop to serve walkers and cyclists on the Lake Dunstan Trail, a spectacular cliffside walking and cycle track linking Cromwell and Clyde. The catch was the trail is just a few metres wide, jammed between cliffs and the lake – with no room for a conventional shop.
The couple’s solution was to create a unique floating coffee shop, Coffee Afloat. The business was an immediate hit, with baristas serving 200-plus cyclists on most days. Building on this success, the Foales opened Burger Afloat, on a second boat alongside the coffee barge.
Burger Afloat went on to win awards in 2021 and 2022, not just for its burgers, but for innovation and sustainability, as part of Eat.Taste.Central, Central Otago’s annual food, wine and beverage celebration.
The innovative business has been a darling of the media, with high-profile coverage in national and regional outlets and an item on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp. It was labelled “New Zealand’s coolest coffee shop” by Stuff Travel, which has also tagged the Lake Dunstan Trail as the country’s most spectacular day ride.
The Coffee and Burger Afloat business is now being offered for sale as a going concern, by negotiation, through brothers Steven and Gary Kirk of Bayleys Cromwell.
Steven Kirk said the business’s target market included bikers, foodies, tourists, local followers, and boaties.
The clientele includes visitors who travel specifically for the unique ‘destination’ hospitality experience of the country’s coolest coffee shop and award-winning floating burger bar, he said.
Business assets offered as part of the sale include the burger boat (a three-hull, seven-metre catamaran), coffee boat (a twin-hull, six-metre catamaran) and the ‘Fetch The Milk’ support boat (a five-metre pontoon vessel).
The boats do business halfway along Lake Dunstan’s 55 kilometre ‘Great Ride’ cycle trail between the Cromwell Heritage Precinct and Clyde Historic Village.
“The coffee and burger boats offer barista coffee, fresh baking, award-winning burgers, waffles and bacon butties, using local suppliers wherever possible.”
“Sustainability is a major feature. On-boat services are powered by rooftop solar panels, coffee is served in compostable cups and recycling is part and parcel of business practices,” Steven Kirk said.
The Coffee Afloat outlet at Frankton Marina trades from a leased 36-square-metre floating café and outdoor area with views of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. Located beside the Frankton Trail, a walking and bike track running from Queenstown Gardens to Frankton, it caters to marina users, as well as passers-by and tourists.
The business employs around 10 seasonal part-time staff across both locations.
Gary Kirk said the business was a “ready-to-go” operation for a new owner.
“All the hard work has been done with well set up boats and catering equipment, all in great condition to run this growing business – leaving a new owner ready to get started for the 2023/24 season this August.
“The existing clientele is broad, including local ‘regulars’, as well as visitors from all over the country, and now internationally, many of whom have returned time and again. The Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail has exceed all expectations for visitor numbers, attracting more than 62,000 people in its first 10 months – underpinning demand from the ‘through traffic’ of cyclists and walkers.
“The mobile nature of the boats presents options for a new owner to further grow the operation, for example by utilising different lakeside sites to service functions and summer events, which are ever popular in this area. Last season’s evening Beats & Burgers Summer Series was a great hit.
“For a new owner who wants to grow a business, this is an operation with incredible lifestyle attractions and a unique and idyllic lakeside workplace in one of New Zealand’s most sought-after landscapes,” Gary Kirk said.
Business financial details and a full plant list are available to potential buyers subject to signing a non-disclosure agreement.