Warm welcome awaits at Marina Bay Eatery & Bar

01 Jun 2021

A place for everyone, with great food and fantastic service in a pretty special location. That’s the vision owners David and Angela Manihera have for Whitianga’s new Marina Bay Eatery & Bar which opened last weekend at the beautiful waterside setting on the corner of The Esplanade and Blacksmith Lane.

It has been just four weeks since the couple made the permanent move from Auckland having fallen in love with the wider Mercury Bay area and making the decision to call time on their lives in the big city. “We really wanted a slower pace of life,” says Angela. “We definitely weren’t ready to retire, but Auckland is just so busy all the time and we wanted a better balance between work and relaxation. We’ve already noticed the difference here, everyone is so much friendlier, people aren’t in as much of a hurry and they take the time to talk to each other, that’s something we are really enjoying.”

After 25 years working in hospitality in both front-facing roles and more recently the business development space, Angela says she is excited about the prospect of running her own business. “I’ve done everything from working behind the bar in the early years to restaurant and hotel management, and then franchise development both here and overseas,” she says. “David and I both felt we have all this knowledge and experience and we should probably take the opportunity to use it to create something for ourselves.”

For David, the new business has meant a return to his former chefing days. “I am in the kitchen with head chef, Michael, who is amazing, we feel so lucky to have him,” he says. “I’m thoroughly enjoying it, even the work over the past few weeks tweaking the menu and getting everything just right, it has been fantastic. We’ve also been working with some wonderful local suppliers securing quality produce and building those relationships. Angela and I are both fully invested, we’re working owners, so we will be here full-time to make sure that coming here is a great experience for customers, that they feel valued and hopefully will be excited to return.”

For Angela, who is managing the front of house, the goal is pretty simple. “We want anyone to be able to stroll in and feel like they can make themselves at home,” she says. “Good quality food, a great atmosphere and making people welcome, that’s what it’s about.” 

Angela is especially passionate when it comes to that final point. “You have to remember that people have made a choice to come to your business,” she says. “They could have gone anywhere else but they came through your doors to support you and therefore you need to acknowledge that in the way you welcome them and the service you provide.”

If the ambiance says welcome, Angela and David say they wanted the menu to be equally inviting. “It was really important to us that anyone could look at the menu and see something that was appealing to them,” says Angela. “So whether it’s a couple enjoying a night out or a family group in for lunch, the goal was that everyone would feel they have a good selection of dishes to choose from. From, for example, the pressed ham hock to the seafood bouillabaisse with saffron broth, it’s a menu that’s packed with interest and flavour. The feedback we’ve had so far is that people can find a range of dishes they would be happy to order which is exactly what we wanted.”

With the doors now open, Angela and David are looking forward to meeting and getting to know the local community. “We’re open from 11:30am until late, Wednesday to Sunday, so pop in and say hi, bring the family or if you are passing by, stop in for a coffee, we’d love to see you,” says Angela.

Pictured: David and Angela Manihera, the owners of Marina Bay Eatery & Bar, Whitianga’s newest restaurant on the corner of The Esplanade and Blacksmith Lane.