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FOOD & DRINK

The Mercury Plaza Is a New Refreshment Room and Community Space on Cross Street

While it shares the same name as the beloved food court, this new space is based around art, coffee and counter food.
By Stephen Heard
June 24, 2020
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The Mercury Plaza Is a New Refreshment Room and Community Space on Cross Street

While it shares the same name as the beloved food court, this new space is based around art, coffee and counter food.
By Stephen Heard
June 24, 2020
  shares

The iconic Mercury Plaza food court might be gone, but its memory still lives on in a new community space right around the corner from the old site.

The original concept of the new The Mercury Plaza was to create a refreshment room that doubled as a space for art and making things. Sunset Tattoo owner Tom McMillan and tā moko artist Tristan Marler (aka Manawa Tapu) wanted to create a place for the local community to hang out, for peers to share their talent, and to make the Karangahape Road/Cross Street neighbourhood more interesting.

"The K' Road area is going through a huge amount of change at the moment with rising rents and major roadworks, which has put a strain on, or forced out, many of the owner-operated shops and cafes. Although there are some really amazing night spots and restaurants, as locals we felt it was crying out for some better daytime establishments." says McMillan.

McMillan and Marler secured the supermarket storage area turned "crazy garage space," underneath the tattoo studio in 2017. Some might recognise the space as the former home of Tony Downing's Cross Street Market, which has since moved to Ponsonby.

The borrowed name comes from the pair's affection for the beloved food court, rather than an attempt to try to recreate it. Local photographer Tim D documented the food court in its last days, and has captured some portraits of the staff and space. A large print will permanently adorn one of the walls and he is planning to launch a book of photos in the space this July. Nick Coldicutt and Harriet Mildon-King (Kiss Kiss, Happy Boy) brought the fit-out to life, while Nigel Roberts extended Sunset's yellow hand-painted shop front.

Rather than trying to thread through an ironic fusion food story — you won't find reworked wonton soup here — the pair are offering what they call "working people food," in an effort to support the workers at the new Karangahape train station project. That means counter food like beef cheek and béchamel pies, pork and fennel sausage rolls, quiche and sandwiches. Chef Ryan Pearce also presents a solid lineup lineup of vegan options, including lentil potato top pie, banana bread and breakfast burritos, while baker Claudia Long supplies sweet treats like brown butter tarts and danishes.

A shared office space will eventually complete the project, with around ten desks available for hire. The space will also be home to workshops and classes, small exhibitions and events.

The Mercury Plaza is now open at 4 Cross Street from 6.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm, Saturday. 

Published on June 24, 2020 by Stephen Heard

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