Alistair Middleton and Barb Lawson are the new part-owners of the former Organic Green Grocer building in The Wood, which is set to become a cafe. Photo: Kate Russell

Grocer to be revived as a cafe


A 150-year-old heritage building in The Wood is set to be transformed into a cafe.

Sitting on the corner of Tasman and Grove streets, the building was home to the Organic Green Grocer for more than 20 years.

But it was purchased last month by Alistair Middleton and Barb Lawson of Homes Created Ltd and Justin Fletcher of Red Box Architects.

Barb says they are hoping to create a “community hub” for the suburban corner site.

“There are no are cafes in The Wood – we’ve lived here for a long time and have always admired the building.”

Alistair adds that there are “not enough” suburban cafes in Nelson, and they want to create something “a bit more than a coffee and counter type cafe”, with a working kitchen, serving local coffee.

He says a cafe would be well supported by residents, backpackers and retirement villages.

Barb says they plan to retain the original building, but the facade would be repainted and the inside would be gutted.

“We’ll do the base fit out, and once we’ve got a tenant signed up for the cafe they can put their mark on it.

“It’ll look classy, but it won’t stick out.”

They will also be developing a number of colonial-style townhouses on the adjacent land, which will “wrap around” the original building. Derelict garages on Tasman St have already been pulled down to make way for up to five townhouses, and another townhouse on the Grove St side.

Barb says they will be keeping them within the heritage look to blend in with the neighbouring properties.

“They will be beautiful, architecturally designed homes,” she says. “It will look like a little village.”

Once they find a tenant for the cafe, Alistair says they will get things moving “as quickly as they can”.

So far they have received nothing but positive comments about the development from locals.

“They all seem pleased that the building is staying – I think the building has always been theirs,” says Alistair.

“We’ve always been keen to renovate an old building – we just didn’t think it would be this one.”