Mikey Newlands and Amanda Rogers / Supplied

American Express Is Shining A Light On Local Dining Spot Ampersand Eatery

Its Shop Small campaign celebrates local dining and the importance of supporting small businesses

With Aotearoa currently in Level Four lockdown, hospitality businesses cannot operate. That makes supporting them, once restrictions have eased, even more important. 

Supporting local favourites continues to be a consideration for New Zealanders, with 2020 heightening the importance of supporting owner-operated businesses, and that mood is helping shape the consumer landscape at present. So, with its Shop Small campaign returning for another year, American Express is encouraging people to frequent neighbourhood enterprises — spotlighting its small restaurant and café customers who have shown passion and resilience in the face of a health crisis.

Ampersand Eatery is one of them. A charming, spacious and friendly dining destination in the seaside suburb of Orakei Bay Village, with its doors open from 8am until midnight, Ampersand is beloved for putting a contemporary spin on classic dishes and making seasonal ingredients sing, and owners Mikey Newlands and Amanda Rogers encourage New Zealanders to support local businesses like theirs.

As part of Shop Small this year, American Express is working in partnership with the Restaurant Association of New Zealand to reach the many small hospitality business owners across Aotearoa, and CEO Marisa Bidois shares Newlands’ and Rogers’ sentiment that the last 18 months have brought forth unprecedented challenges for the hospitality sector. She welcomes American Express’ support of the sector: “As advocates for the local industry, we are thrilled to see global companies stand up in support of small businesses, encouraging the public to back the businesses that make up their communities. So we’re thrilled to see American Express bring their Shop Small movement to New Zealand for the second consecutive year,” she says. “Telling the stories of our members, like Ampersand Eatery, is a vital part of survival in small business — the names, the faces, the people behind the shopfront are what make these restaurants and cafés so valuable to our communities.”

It’s an ethos worth embracing. Ampersand Eatery has created a loyal following over the years, and it’s no wonder both locals and visitors from further afield keep coming back. However, like everyone in the hospitality industry, the past 18 months have been challenging for Mikey and Amanda, who tell Viva about what it’s been like navigating the challenges of operating during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, and why New Zealanders should Shop Small.

Photo / Supplied

Small businesses are a traditional, much-loved part of the economy of Aotearoa. Could you tell us about yours — and what drives your vision? Why do you do what you do?
Ampersand Eatery was built to complement the community of Orakei Bay Village, and be somewhat of an ‘oasis’ or ‘home away from home’ for our community of guests. We do what we do for them, for our team and for our family — and they are what drives our vision.

What would people be surprised to know about your business?
Ampersand Eatery was created when we were also starting our family! We built Ampersand together with a team of business partners so we could do both — have our first child and open our first hospitality venture.

What’s been the biggest struggle to emerge from the pandemic for you as a small business this year, and what are you most proud of?
It’s almost impossible to recruit at the moment. Every industry can always look at itself at a time like this and think “what can we do better?” and hospitality is no different, however, any meaningful or warranted change always takes time. That being said, we are so thankful to have come out of 2020 positively and so grateful for the work our team has put in and for the support of our community. We are always looking towards different ways of making our experience better for our customers and putting the energy that we have into training. Our ‘backbone’ team have been amazing and have pulled so much weight and that has been hard on all of them — they are what we are most proud of.

Photo / Supplied

Why is it so important for New Zealanders to Shop Small, shop local and support small businesses?
New Zealand has grown on the back of SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises]. Small businesses help to make up a community — they bring people together through staff and customers and become part of people’s lives. It’s important to keep as much money as possible going around the New Zealand economy and not heading offshore.

What does it mean for you and your business to be part of the local American Express dining community?
American Express offers another way to spread the word through advertising and community. We’re thankful for this opportunity to share our story.

How else can people show their support for small businesses?
We think that creating a positive reputation is important for small businesses, and that when customers and staff talk about a business in a positive light that is the best advertisement! When you have a great experience, spread the word and tell others — that’s the best way people can show their support.


Shop Small returns to New Zealand for its second year. Founded by American Express, Shop Small aims to celebrate small businesses, highlight their importance within our communities and rally consumers to support them. There’s a win for Card Members too. If you save the Shop Small offer to your eligible American Express Card, you’ll receive $5 back when you spend $10 or more in-store at participating small businesses, up to 10 times.* Visit amex.co.nz/shop-small for more information on how to redeem the Shop Small Card Member offer and discover small businesses in your area.

*Limited offer. Offer ends 30/11/2021. Exclusions, T&Cs apply.

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