Today we chat to the lovely team behind Sawmill Brewery + Smoko Room, a brewery and restaurant located in the picturesque landscape of Matakana. Masters of their trade, Sawmill is all about thinking outside the box and being a force of good in the community.
A : Mike and Kirsty wanted a space for the community to be able to come together and to enjoy great beer, food, and conversation in a beautiful location.
Q : What is the story behind the name of your business?
A : The brewery was first established in Leigh in 2004 on the site of what was once a local timber mill established in the 1860’s – hence the name Sawmill Brewery. In February 2016 we moved from the original site, and we now work from premises just out of Matakana. The Smoko Room is named after the colloquial ‘smoko’ where workers would take a short break from the daily grind and relax. The Smoko Room is a place for people to unwind whether that is with a quick pint on their own or a long lunch with friends.
Q : What lies at the heart of your business?
A : We are in business to be a force for good; Real. Independent. Resourceful. These are 3 words that Sawmill as a company lives by.
Real: We are the real deal. No bullshit. We are all in.
Independent: Think for ourselves. Be brave enough to stand out. Take our own path. Push boundaries and think laterally.
Resourceful: Innovate and enterprising in how we think. Always mindful of resources – time, energy, water, raw ingredients. Aim to have a positive impact on our environment and communities.
Q : Do you have a signature dish or specialty product?
A : In the Smoko Room our menu is constantly evolving. Our main focus is to create dishes that are made with locally sourced, seasonal, sustainable produce, underutilised cuts of meat and lesser known species of fish. We’re here to champion the incredible produce we have at our doorstep and to support our local community wherever we can.
Q : Why did you choose to partner with Forage and Bloom?
A : Our drinks menu is entirely New Zealand made and is all organic, Fairtrade, biodynamic, or sustainable. Forage and Bloom teas, being organic, locally made and female owner operated is a business we were excited to get behind.
Q : Do you have any words of encouragement for other businesses dealing with the impacts of lockdown?
A : Take it one day at a time. Don’t watch the news too much. Things WILL get better. Communicate. Accept that it’s ok to feel like shit, but be sure to not let it consume you day after day. Ask for help.
Q : Favourite quote or words to live by
A : "You can always tell when a person has worked in a restaurant. There's an empathy that can only be cultivated by those who've stood between a hungry mouth and a $28 pork chop, a special understanding of the way a bunch of motley misfits can be a family. Service industry work develops the "soft skills" recruiters talk about on LinkedIn — discipline, promptness, the ability to absorb criticism, and most important, how to read people like a book. The work is thankless and fun and messy, and the world would be a kinder place if more people tried it. With all due respect to my former professors, I've long believed I gained more knowledge in kitchens, bars, and dining rooms than any college could even hold."
~ Anthony Bourdain
6/25/1956 - 6/8/2018
Thanks Sawmill Brewery, we love your authenticity and commitment to being an independent creator of change ☆