Five Questions for Kristy Phillips

9 Oct 2018

Kristy is Hospitality NZ’s newest elected member on our national board. Born and raised in Western Australia, Kristy has recently become a “certified kiwi”. She and her husband Grant co-own Zest restaurant in Timaru.

How did you first get into hospitality?

My first experience was going for lunch at a friend’s opening day for their café.  They were much busier than anticipated and I ended up clearing tables and serving meals, and found myself my first hospo job during high school. I've been involved in hospitality in some form, ever since then.

 Was it always in the plan to own and run a restaurant? 

My first business was as a self-employed massage therapist for treatment and rehabilitation work, but we had always looked at opportunities over the years, waiting for the right one.  However, it was a bit of a surprise when I got home from work one night to find out my husband had spoken to a real estate agent about approaching a local restaurant to see if they wanted to sell!  They weren't interested at that stage but a couple of months later they came back to us.  It was an opportunity too good to pass up, and has been our focus for the last nine years. 

 Have there been challenges you’ve had to overcome in the industry?

Challenges can be opportunities! We opened during the GFC in 2009, so our first winter was the worst one that many of our fellow operators had ever experienced. Reductions in the dairy pay-out have had general effects over the years.  Legislative and compliance changes have obviously had an impact. Nine years later we are still growing and looking forward. 

 What kind of qualities do you look for in your employees?

We look for people that want to be a part of the team, and our “Zest Family” attitude is everything!  While skills are important, we can and will always teach those.  People that embrace the hospo lifestyle and enjoy creating an experience that our guests come back for, are paramount to our business and the general industry.

 With you and your husband both working in the restaurant, it must be difficult to get time off together to relax and unwind.  How do you manage that?

Walking our dogs (Boxer brothers) in the park and having them to make us laugh every night has always been a good way to unwind for us.  We take every opportunity to relax when we can, and whenever I go back to Perth to see family, well, my husband tells me that’s a holiday for everyone!

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