Take a Seat in Parnell | Jenni Goulding and Jeremy Turner

Jenni Goulding, Environmental Planner and Parnell resident, interviews Jeremy Turner, owner of Cibo.

ABOUT JENNI GOULDING

I have been a Parnell resident since 1994 with my husband and three children, all of whom grew up in Parnell and attended Parnell District School.

I have been an Environmental Planner (BTP MNZPI) since 1980 – both at local government level as well as a consultant for large strategic projects, and for the last 15 years have provided pro bono informal and formal advice to the Parnell Community – usually via the Parnell Community Committee. In 2012 I co-authored a document called ‘Tomorrow Parnell’, setting out an innovative future for Parnell with emphasis on communities being at the forefront of planning, and was a member of collaborative group tasked with preparing the Parnell Plan 2019.

Sometimes I’m so frustrated about Auckland. Auckland is such a beautiful landscape but is being ruined by the urban form that has been wittingly and unwittingly allowed to establish by decades of poor decision making and top heavy administration. We don’t tackle the big questions and make inspirational choices for our city based on advancing the lifestyle and lifeblood  of a city on twin coasts. We are fixated in copycat urban design (and silly street installations) and transport solutions dominated by health and safety and orange cones. We haven’t tackled the ‘social city’- meaning the life and lives of our people. Our work ethic as a city is abysmal – we allow things to take time instead of striving for fast rollout. Just look at downtown – why have we been idly letting  the go slow happen that has paralysed the CBD?

My memories of Parnell go back to my youth – like those amazing picnic fundraising concerts featuring Neil Finn, for Parnell School.

I think Parnell needs a champagne art bar, a gourmet food store, a neighbourhood theatre, a cooperative where you can exchange objects and ideas, and to kick things off, Parnell should absorb dead end streets and underused streets into parks or better uses.

Aotearoa – I call home, but Parnell is my everyday pillow.

Jenni: Jeremy, Cibo has been called one of the stalwart restaurants in Auckland but it is so much more than that. Cibo has been in Parnell since 1994, creating in your words ‘an atmosphere of splendour to be enjoyed by all’. When and how did you discover the secret to your success?

Jeremy: It’s really about creating a place that everyone wants to be, and first and foremost in this equation is the team, front and back.  If the team want to be here then they are going to show the customer a great time, create a little bit of magic.  At the end of the day that is the recipe – creating a little bit of magic that goes above and beyond the norm of just going out to dine.

At the end of the day that is the recipe – creating a little bit of magic that goes above and beyond the norm of just going out to dine.

Jeremy Turner

Jenni: How does food bring people together? What does it connect in us?

Jeremy: It’s an opportunity to be together – it delightfully forces us to be together and creates a bond between us. 

At Cibo we have a staff dinner together every night before dinner service – this really helps the team bond and is really the only time we get to talk properly to each other!

Jenni: When I think of 2020 and the lockdowns, I think that Covid has strengthened the ‘love thy neighbour’ attitude of this community, got people embracing their streetscape and the willingness to support local restaurants particularly. What opportunities and challenges did Covid lockdowns open up for you?

Jeremy: I couldn’t sleep because I was just thinking, thinking, thinking… the up-side was that all the stress and worry made me fight for survival. I didn’t know that the business was going to survive. I just thought that I have to do everything I possibly can to make sure it stands the best chance.

Jenni: My view of the local Parnell community is an inclusive, innovative group of people who are confident, but tend to fly under the radar. You have often been quoted as knowing your customers by name and ‘loving’ them. How important is the emphasis on local support for today’s businesses?

Jeremy: Local is key, it’s our thing and always has been.  Getting to know your regulars, (our locals) can be so much fun.  We’ve washed cars for our customers while they’re dining, even sanded and restored the top of one of our customers canes!  Genuine love for your customers means these things are easy to pull off.

Local is key, it’s our thing and always has been. We’ve washed cars for our customers while they’re dining, even sanded and restored the top of one of our customers canes!

Jeremy Turner

Jenni: I see Parnell as sophisticated and mature. It is home to celebrated regional assets, (The Domain, Parnell Baths, Cathedral, Rose Gardens, Parnell Village), creative industries, art, architects, high-end food and living in an intimate heritage suburb with proximity to the city and waterfront. I love the natural unadulterated greenspaces of Parnell,- the granddad Pohutukawa tree in Dove Myer Park, the Hobson Bay vista from Waitoa Reserve. I love the heritage -The Museum and Wintergarden buildings, the Valkyrie fountain, and the Harbour Masters cottage. I never tire of going into and through the Axis building . I love the plant mural on the Jasmax building…..too many favourites!

What do you think is most compelling about Parnell?

Jeremy: I love the fact that it has still maintained a little quirky village feel, despite being so close to the city and accessible.

Jenni: What do you think should never change in Parnell? What should we hold onto?

Jeremy: Exactly that!

Jenni: In closing and just for fun, what would we always find in your fridge at home?

Jeremy: Sardines and chocolate!

TOP PHOTO CAPTION: Jenni Gouding and Jeremy Turner photographed in the Axis Building, seated on Peacock 2-Seater Sofa by Cane-Line Weave, available from Domo.

ARTICLE: as published in The Verve, April 2021. 

CELEBRATING THE RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES IN PARNELL.

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