Business South May 2021

| 9 The Mussel Inn - a home to magical memories T Richard Loader The Mussel Inn was created by Andrew and Jane Dixon in 1992. The Mussel Inn BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT A fter enjoying an evening in good com- pany at Golden Bay’s The Mussel Inn, I can say there is much to love about the café/bar/music venue that has found its place as an iconic destination where happy memories are forged. Located on a large section behind a row of trees on the main road between the town- ships of Takaka and Collingwood, The Mussel Inn was crafted by Jane and Andrew Dixon and their two sons Henry and Toby in 1992. Back in the day there was a total absence of licenced cafés and all Jane and Andrew want- ed was a casual place to relax with friends, enjoy a beer, a bite to eat and listen to some live music. So they decided to create their own space. “We initially thought we would build the Inn out of logs, as we’d built log houses through- out New Zealand, but we were very aware that people were in awe of log houses,” says Jane. “We didn’t want the building to be a feature in itself. We just wanted people to come in and relax so we ditched the log idea and went for old sarking and other recycled materials.” Iron from an old shed built in the 1920s was repurposed as the Inn’s exterior cladding, second hand windows and doors came from Nelson and old bricks from a cement works were used for the large fire place inside and paving outside. Andrew hauled logs off the beach and used a chainsaw mill to mill the wood for the inside tables. “What we wanted to create was wanted by our local community. They helped to build it and contributed to making the chairs and some of the tables around the property. So it became everybody’s place in many ways.” The finished building could be described as a Kiwi woolshed/tramping hut meets Aussie farmhouse in style and construction. A single room with a verandah on three sides, solid wooden furniture and a large open fire create a space that is rustic and homely. Famous for fresh steamed mussels and mussel chowder, The Mussel Inn also serves steak, fish and vegetarian options. Producing all its own beers, ales, ciders, soft drinks and occasional house wines in a small brewery adjacent to the property, The Mussel Inn is also renowned for gigs with some of New Zealand’s best loved musicians having performed there including Nadia Reid, Don McGlashan, Holly Smith an Anika Moa. Made from macrocarpa, the floor is built for dancing and on the night I visited a sea of people got their groove on dancing to the magical rhythms and dulcet tones of a gypsy band from Wellington. “We facilitate everyone who comes here to be who they want to be,” says Andrew. “Other than oil when I first laid the floor, it’s never had anything on it. It’s built for dancing and everyone who dances on it leaves a little bit of themselves here. It’s always been about the people.” Jane adds that authenticity is what makes The Mussel Inn what it is. “It’s just us. For us, its nothing special — it’s just what we do. We didn’t build it to be anything in particular — what we built is just what we wanted to build.” The use of recycled and pre-loved materials speaks volumes about Andrew and Jane’s pas- sion for the environment and sustainability. As a teenager back in the late ‘70s Jane received a national Young Environmentalist award for her involvement in native forest action and has always been a strong advocate for sustainability. “We just want to live the best way we can in the modern world — and we’re by no means perfect in what we do. We added our own brewery in 1995. Making our own beer, cider and soft drinks on-site is a major one, be- cause there’s a whole lot of freight we’re not moving around. We only use local hops grown over the hill and we use Gladfield Malt from Canterbury.” An orchard was added to the mix 12 years ago where apples and feijoas are grown for cider, along with some hops, vegetables and herbs. “All our food scraps and coffee grounds go to compost or pigs. So the orchard/garden gives us a little bit more resilience, self-suffi- ciency and home grown-ness. Solar hot water will eventually be cost effective too, and we do our own laundry and line dry our washing and have an electric car with zero emissions.” “We just want to live the best way we can in the modern world — and we’re by no means perfect in what we do.” NZ’s leading supplier of hops _ proud to support _ The Mussel Inn