Waikato Food Inc. News

Iconic Waikato eatery celebrates 10 years

In a year that has rocked the hospitality industry nationwide, Tamahere’s Punnet Eatery has something to celebrate.

This year marks 10 years in business for the popular eatery – a feat for any business, let alone one in the midst of a global pandemic.

Set in the idyllic surrounds of the Newell Road Strawberry Farm on the outskirts of Hamilton, the eatery is known for its family-friendly fare and fresh, seasonal menu. Owner/operator, Haley Bicknell says she’s incredibly proud to be celebrating a decade of Punnet and is looking forward to formally recognising the occasion in November. “We have created something really special here and in turn cemented ourselves within the Tamahere community and wider Waikato.

Ten years reflects a great deal of effort, passion and contribution from many people as well as the support of our incredible customers.” Haley took the helm back in 2011, taking over from her parents, Gary and Pam McMahon, who run the strawberry farm. She saw it as her opportunity to join the family business and dove right in.



During her time as owner/operator she’s focused on refining Punnet’s offering and delivering the total package – great service, a special experience and exceptional food. She credits her head chef, Sophie Beck for the latter. “Sophie’s cuisine is something really unique – it’s both homely and refined. Sophie’s expertise and leadership in the kitchen have been a real asset to the business for the past two years.

” Haley says staffing is the key ingredient to any successful hospitality business and believes her team is the secret to Punnet’s longevity. “It’s really rewarding to continually be able to celebrate the teams ‘punniversaries’ – with members passing two, three and four years here – which anyone in the hospitality industry would know is rare.

She credits their values as another contributor to 10 years in business. “One of our values is ‘Every day better’ and I honestly believe that is the main reason why we are still here.”

We try to make ourselves better every single day.” Haley moved from Hamilton into the Tamahere community a few years ago and says that has been a highlight of her time at Punnet.

“Joining the community that I have worked so hard to serve and contribute to for the past seven years was really poignant for me. It’s a special place to be and I find it really motivating to be able to add value to my community.”

Haley is also thankful to be working alongside her family, with not only the Strawberry Farm a family business, but the store next door – Country Providore, also owned and operated by her sisters, Emma and Kate. While there is much to be proud of, Haley jokes she is never happy. “I’m always looking to improve. I’m really motivated to own a business that I’m proud of and that I am proud for my friends, family and community to enjoy.

There’s some really awesome stuff going on in the Hamilton hospitality scene at the moment too and I hope to continue contributing to that.” As the busiest daytime café in the Waikato, where can Punnet go from here? “This is my home and I would still love to be here in another 10 years’ time, continuing that special relationship with our customers and staff and always pushing in terms of innovating and evolving.

” The 10-year celebrations will run for the month of November and include a range of special events, in-store promotions and online giveaways.