Bryn Evans and his wife Halle are looking forward to welcoming diners to Brother, a new cafe in Havelock North. Photo / Paul Taylor
As the door closes on his professional rugby career, former All Black Bryn Evans and his wife Halle are embarking on their new business venture in Havelock North – and it’s very much a family
On November 9, the doors will open to Brother, a family-friendly cafe on the grounds of Village Vineyards, at 265 Te Mata Rd.
“I chose the name Brother because I wanted a family-based word. The whole fact that there’s boys in the family was an afterthought,” says Halle.
“It’s a bonus that it resonates through the family.”
Village Vineyards has been owned by the wider Evans family since 2019, including Bryn’s younger brothers, Rhys, the chief winemaker, and Gareth, himself an All Black.
From early on, Halle and Bryn saw the potential of the building at the front of the property, formerly home to Piku Restaurant. But a couple of things halted progress: the pandemic, and Bryn being awarded a Highlanders Super Rugby contract for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, which took them and their first child to Dunedin.
But now, with another Magpies season behind him, and the arrival of their second child this year, Bryn and Halle are concentrating on the future.
“It’s time to look at other ventures,” says Bryn.
Bryn spent a decade playing overseas, including stints at London Irish and Sale Sharks in England, as well as with Biarritz in the southwest of France. Their travels have influenced what’s in store at Brother.
“The social aspect of eating is a big one for us,” says Halle.
“A lot of the menu and the dishes are globally inspired by places that Bryn and I have been,” she says.
Despite a shortage of hospitality workers throughout the country, Halle has been successful in getting a team ready for their opening, with most staff locally based, as well as some from overseas.
“I have an awesome team of about 15. I know staffing has been problematic in hospitality,” she says.
Among the recruits is head chef Matt Cooper, most recently known for his Social Eats gourmet meals business on Martin Pl, Havelock North, who has also owned and run award-winning restaurants in Hamilton and Cambridge.
Brother can host a total of 100 people inside and outside and will open Wednesday to Sunday, with coffee, brunch and cabinet food served throughout the day, and small plates, grazing boards and wine in the afternoon. The family aspect of the business also makes the kid’s menu something they are proud of.
“Everywhere we go, it’s just fried food, so we put a big effort on [a] good, fresh kids menu. I have the best taste tester with our 3-year-old, “says Halle.
Gareth, who played for the Highlanders between 2014 and 2017, before spending four seasons with the Hurricanes, re-signed with the Highlanders for the 2022 Super Rugby season, giving the former Napier Boys’ High School students a chance to link up in what would be Bryn’s final season. Since Brother started to take shape, he’s been hard at work there as well.
“I had Gareth working on the roof one day, I’ve had him doing the pavers, all the jobs that pop up,” says Halle.
“It’s awesome for Halle and Bryn, they’re the brains behind it all and it’s going to be awesome,” says Gareth.
“We’ve got this great family opportunity here now and with my middle brother Rhys he’s pretty understaffed on the vineyard too, so me and Bryn will just look to help out wherever we can really; there’ll be plenty going on,” he says.