Cris (support office Facilities)

Welcome to our latest staff profile!

Today we’re talking to Cris from the Facilities team, the expert at keeping your equipment running! Cris is from Romania, a historic, dynamic part of Europe… so why is he happy with St. Pierre’s in NZ? Read on!

Cris came to NZ with his partner in 2011. His motivation was simple: A lifestyle choice.

“I was looking to move somewhere new for my next challenge. My sister had visited New Zealand and told me it was a good place to live, so I decided to take the plunge.”

Cris played a key role in the
Onehunga shop: Fridges/freezers, machinery, power, gas, building contracts, building compliance…

After 11 years with St. Pierre’s, he has done just about everything here – accounts, payroll, facilities…

“I also worked as kitchen crew for one month at St. Luke’s. It was valuable, helping me understand how the front line works and what you need. And I got to know many people who are now managers – area manager Lili, Ivy in Tauranga, and Alfred at Te Irirangi. It was intense but fun.”

Cris has been in charge of Facilities for several years now, and loves his role.

“I like challenges, and hate boring repetition. Every day is different! We work with so many different people – shop crew to partners, tradies, landlords, new suppliers… you have to constantly adjust to work with such diverse business partners.”

Cris is in charge of everything in every St. Pierre’s shop working smoothly. For years, he has managed equipment like fridges, lighting and utilities, which his teammate Johnny So now handles. Cris is working more with landlords, building compliance, negotiating contracts and putting procedures in place.

“It’s all about being more proactive and finding a balance, keeping costs down but also reducing risk. I want to help managers meet their targets and keep their business running smoothly. I also want to help staff focus on customer needs with great products and service, with no annoying distractions from malfunctions.”

Over the years, Cris has worked in many jobs, and his experience informs his approach to productive work.

“It feels good when critical tasks are sorted, and you’ve controlled what you can control. When you set a challenge for yourself and achieve it, you should celebrate that. But a real challenge should be 30%-40% more than you know you can do. Pushing your own limits helps you grow.”

Celebrating the Onehunga shop completion with director Nick (left),
designer Annie, and new build manager James

Finally, Cris appreciates help from shop staff.

“Speed is critical. Please contact me sooner rather than later. For example, if a freezer is getting loud, vibrating, or smells strange, tell us. Even if you’re just concerned, tell us! Parts failure leads to higher costs of repair or replacement, wasted food, and worst case, a fire. We’re here to help you, so please get in touch.”

Cris and his team are unsung heroes at St. Pierre’s, working in the background to help our great shop crew achieve their goals. At St. Pierre’s, we’re proud to have amazing people like him on our team! We have a strong culture of being “people first”, supporting each other as we set challenging goals. Cris shows that the right attitude can take you far, and we’re sure he will continue to reach new heights! Here’s to everyone across the St. Pierre’s Group aiming high!

Onehunga drive thru grand opening!

Welcome! Today, St. Pierre’s marked a huge milestone for the company – our first-ever sushi drive thru! It’s definitely the first sushi drive thru in NZ – and we think the first outside Japan! What a big step!

A couple of weeks after opening the Onehunga shop sushi and Bento Bowl eat in, today was day one for drive thru! Prominently located on Neilson St, the main road onto the motorway south, it’s the ideal spot to grab a healthy or hearty meal on the go.

The drive thru format meant we could do our famous sushi giveaway today, with Nick firing up the crowd – socially distanced in cars! – like he loves so much to do. We kept the promotion low-key to avoid creating a traffic jam – but word still got around. People heard about the giveaway on Facebook, More FM and on Newshub and came down in droves!
Lots of local characters came by – check out the videos at the end too!

Not everyone agrees on their favourite flavour, but they all agree to choose our sushi!

Interestingly, customers came from all over Auckland – some locals, but also from Mount Albert, Mangere, Manurewa and beyond. Our first customer came all the way from Papakura! While she usually goes to the Takanini shop, she was fascinated by the idea of sushi drive thru and came to check it out (as well as grab lunch!)

Another South Auckland sushi lover, from Manurewa!
Two years of effort by dozens of people for this moment – the grand opening!
A steady queue of customers keen for their first St. Pierre’s drive-thru experience!

While queues built up at some points, the shop crew – led by energetic managers Rico (sushi) and TJ (Bento Bowl) – kept things moving quickly. So far, so smooth, thanks to huge work behind the scenes. Facilities team members Cris and Johnny put in many hours over the holidays, making sure every last detail is perfect. IT has also been crucial to the successful opening – our Chief Information Officer Tan commented that

“We develop all of our IT systems in house, so the drive thru project was a big, new challenge for us. We have been working toward this day for two years, and it has all gone smoothly thanks to our dedicated team. After we developed the software, we spent hundreds more hours testing the systems to cope with any situation. We even had to rent extra office space so we could lay out the hardware and simulate the drive thru in action. Then we had ten days of in-store trialling for the staff to learn the system. Their feedback will help us make improvements in future.”

Finally, Director Nick Katsoulis commented that

“Onehunga is off to a great start! It has been a huge effort, and we believe we’ve created a world-class drive thru operation. But there is still a lot to learn. We need to understand what our customers want to order in the drive thru and if that’s different from in the shop. Then we need to adapt our processes to suit. We may be trading for longer hours at the drive thru, and we still haven’t started delivery services here like Uber Eats. That’s our next big challenge!

Adding a drive thru is like moving from a 2D to a 3D business – so much changes, and continues to change. One example is the menu boards. Our design team rethought the layout to make ordering from a car easier, so for example the drive thru menu has a unique number for each product. This makes ordering quicker and easier for the customer and staff. Communication by intercom voice only challenged us to rethink how our ordering works.

So the drive thru project has been tough, but we took it as a valuable chance to rethink how we do everything. Offering drive thru service is big step up for the company, rivalling the major brands, and we’ve relished the opportunity to improve every aspect of what we provide to our customers.

Lots of St. Pierre’s fans came to visit!

The Onehunga shop will be a real landmark in the Onehunga community – day or night! – as well as a focal shop for the St. Pierre’s Group. It will be the platform for many exciting new developments – watch this space! In the meantime, we hope to see you in Onehunga soon!

A local business partner dropped by for lunch 🙂
This teriyaki chicken lover heard about the giveaway on More FM and came right down!
Nick’s Facebook Live videos brought this tuna avocado lover from Mt. Eden!
Some genuine local characters came by today. We love Onehunga!!!