Southern Station Wagyu Brisket

With exceptional coffee and a tasty all-day menu, Young Dandy is the laid-back new cafe in Parnell you need to try

“Vibes, vibes, vibes indeed” is what you’ll find at Young Dandy, a laid-back new cafe in the heart of Parnell that opened its doors last week. Owner/operator James Prendergast set out to create a fun, relaxed, and above all, welcoming spot that turns out epic food and great coffee, with consistently excellent service. Sounds easy, right? Not really, but from what we’ve seen so far, Prendergast has hit his mark.

Right: Vadouvan spiced mushrooms

Having spent the last two decades gaining international hospo experience through his time spent living and working in the UK, North America, Australia and New Zealand, Prendergast fell into a career in hospitality organically, as many do, but what he found was much more than he could ever have anticipated when starting out. Working with Ozone Coffee in London, he jumped at the chance to relocate to Auckland to open their Grey Lynn site in 2019 as the Restaurant General Manager, “The way the Auckland community embraced Ozone made it such a special time,” he recalls, “I then knew that Auckland was the place I wanted to sink my teeth into and open my own place. I have been a Sales Manager for Ozone Coffee wholesale for the past two years, supporting people to build their own dream cafe spaces. Now it’s my turn.”

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Unsurprisingly, given Prendergast’s background, Young Dandy is a cafe with a core focus on speciality coffee, paired with, in his words, “damn fine everyday food and attention to service.” He tells me that, for him, a cafe needs to embody community and be accessible to its everyday customers, which is why Young Dandy will be operating seven days a week.

The Fish Toast

Spotting a location in Parnell that matched his vision for a place of his own, Pendergast set to work, getting stuck in and taking on the bulk of the design work himself. Having a background in Fine Arts means Prendergast possess an effortless attention to detail that has set him in great stead, and after a trip back home to Europe last year, he found that the hospo businesses that Inspired him most had really simple approaches to their fit out design, “They were typically small and intimate environments which had unique appeal to me,” he recalls, “The space Young Dandy is in is naturally stunning, with exposed brick and concrete flooring which you don’t often come across in Auckland — especially brick. It made me want to keep things simple, because the materials are features in themselves.” he continues, “I decided to make a lot of the furniture myself, which I saw as another way of being able to express myself in the space.”

Left: The Falafel

On the food front, the focus is on everyday food, done well. “Young Dandy is serious about the execution of simple things,” Prendergast tells me, “As we’ve been working on the menu, we’ve constantly been guided by the idea that our food has to be uncomplicated. Simple, but excellent.” As such, you’ll find breakfast and brunch classics that we all know and love, with the addition of lunch specials to appeal to the local business community. Heading up the small kitchen is Amy Barrowclough (previously Ozone Coffee’s Head Chef), and, according to Prendergast, immediate favourites are the Smoked Brisket on Corn Bread, the Beetroot Falafel Salad, and the decadent French Toast on the weekend. There’s also a cabinet with a curated collection of the classics, with plans to expand into catering for local businesses later in the year. 

When it comes to the drinks on offer, great coffee comes first, with a delicious selection of teas, juices and smoothies made in-house. There are plans to expand the offering to include beer, wine, and cocktails, with Pendergast excited to bring his years of wine and cocktail experience into the menu. 

Southern Station Wagyu Brisket

Having only opened last week, Young Dandy is already making a name for itself — embracing locals like old friends, and serving up what we’ve heard is some of the best coffee in town. In James’ words, “Young Dandy is about community, from the people who work here to our customers and people who use the space. Parnell has seen a few new businesses come to the area recently, and I’m so looking forward to being part of that new wave and contributing to the Parnell community.”

With plans to expand into events — from cooking classes to book clubs and coffee workshops, and a few exciting chef pop-ups on the horizon, it’s clear that what Prendergast has set out to create with Young Dandy is much more than a laid-back local. Although it’s very much that too. Watch this space.

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday, 7am until 3pm
Saturday to Sunday, 8am until 3pm

Young Dandy

118 Parnell Road


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