Friday, August 25, 2006

The Ale House, ex-Chez Eelco

Chez Eelco, at the top of Trafalgar Street, was arguably the most celebrated 'Coffee House' in New Zealand at one time. Opened in the 60's serving coffee to a tea-drinking nation, it had an iconic status in Nelson. In the years we've been in Nelson, the Cafe housed local arts, functioned as a Internet cafe, possibly the first in Nelson, and kept an international staff to cater to visitors from around the world.

Since the late-90's, with Eelco's retirement, two owners (one his daughter) tried to hold on to the legacy while modernizing the interior and the menu, but in 2004 it was sold to the current owners.

Founder Eelco Boswijk has been a tireless patron of arts and culture in Nelson, supporting the Wearable Arts show from its inception (more on this in the future), and we have seen at least three paintings/prints with the signature red-and-white stripped awning, parasols and table clothes. Eelco's own bust is soon to be erected, but the City Council and Nelsonians want it outside, the Ale House wants it inside.


  1. I was so dissappointed when I found Chez Eelco had closed :( It really was an iconic cafe. Ironic that it lasted until cafe's/ coffee drinking became popular.

  2. It was a tragedy, Louise. Where else would you find a cafe owner who comes and sits with patrons to have a chat? He's still seen at the Saturday and the new Sunday markets, but it's not the same.

  3. Eelco Boswijk.
    Sounds as Dutch as can be to me.

  4. These buildings are so quaint and well preserved. I like the colorful umbrellas too.

  5. Dutchie, he looks it, too, tall, slender. He's just a wonderful man.

    Cristina, you know, you are right. I don't appreciate them enough because a) I have a stone building fettish and 2) we have so many of these old wooden buildings still in good shape and in use. But they have been demolished to make way for concrete boxes, so I better record them while they are still around!

  6. What a pity. I went to New Zealand some 6-7 years ago and particularly loved Nelson. So much in fact, that, had circumstances been different back then, I would seriously have given up Europe and bought a house in Nelson!

    Now I guess I will never get the recipe for those exquisite little apricot balls with a touch of chocolate...

  7. I have fond memories of often visiting the Chez Eelco even before I was a teenager, my friends used to hang out there too. We were too young to drink in the local bars.I am 66 now. Noel.


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