Topic: Atrium Restaurant

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Long-time diners at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s Atrium training restaurant recall good times there over the past sixteen years. This article appeared in Info News on 22 January 2013.

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Beryl & Derek Prujean with Jean Jackson CREDIT: Bay of Plenty Polytechnic

Derek and Beryl Prujean, and their friend Jean Jackson, have been dining at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s Atrium training restaurant for 16 years. They know this for sure, because Derek has a note of their first meal in his diary – dated April 1996.

“We’ve actually been coming to the Polytechnic for dinner since before the Atrium opened,” says Derek. “It used to be a little place with only a few tables and chairs, and we’d bring our own wine because there was no bar. Back then it was Beryl and I with Jean and her husband James.”

Jean was working at the Council when a colleague told her about the Polytechnic’s restaurant and the four friends went every fortnight for years and years.

When the more formal Atrium Restaurant opened the friends made sure they booked well in advance as it was always full to the brim with keen diners.

At the start of each season, the restaurant sends out a booking calendar and the group go through and carefully mark out the dates they’ll be dining. It’s an event they all look forward to.

Looking back over the years they recall with amusement the antics of Henry Campana, the chef.

“Henry used to have theme nights. Once he came into the restaurant dressed as a mafia don. He was in a wheelchair and he was singing with a cigar in one hand. All the food that night was Italian themed. He was always jovial, always joking. It was very entertaining. Another night he arranged belly dancers. It was a fun time, it really was.”

Nowadays it’s Kylee New who greets the diners, and Beryl is equally glowing in her reports. “Kylee’s lovely,” she says. “She’s very caring and really looks after us.”

Happily, the food at the restaurant is also still impressive. Beryl recalls a pastry swan creation. “It was quite tall and filled with lemon cream. A diner close to us said it was too nice to eat so instead she took it home with her.”

“The restaurant is obviously a wonderful training facility for the students,” says Derek “It’s great to watch them progress through the year. They start off nervous and gradually gain confidence as they go. We often become quite friendly with them. One student invited us to come and dine at the new restaurant where he’d been hired.”

“We’ll keep coming,” the friends joke “as long as our limbs will carry us!” 

Did you know that the Atrium Restaurant was only one of five local restaurants to be awarded a 2013 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award? This is the third year in a row for the popular restaurant. The restaurant will open again in the second term.

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