The Perfect Pairing

What do you get when you take the oldest pub in Wellington with an ethos of executing the classics really well, and a small, local, family run business making handmade dips and olives?

We think you get the perfect pairing.

Richard (Richie) Walshe, Thistle Inn’s Director, has lived and breathed hospitality for a long time. He studied Hospitality Management, worked in various eateries and came to the Thistle Inn in the early 2000’s. 

Chatting with Toby, Elysian Foods’ Owner and Richie, there are similarities in how they both arrived at their current positions.

The previous owners of Thistle Inn held a role open for Richie while he traveled to the UK - not quite sure the pub offered what he was looking for at the time, he needed to have a look around. When he came back, Richie was offered the role of Manager, so started making changes that gave Thistle Inn the atmosphere he was after - pokies were out, functions were in. Richie is now co-owner of Thistle Inn with friend, foodie and forager Scott Benton.


“100% without a doubt, I’d recommend Elysian Foods to other pubs and restaurants.” 

Richie Walshe, Director Thistle Inn

Toby was contracting back in 2016, and the work wasn’t quite offering the motivation or passion he was after. After a friend recommended he check out TradeMe, Toby found Elysian Foods was for sale. A long time fan of Taramasalata during his time in Europe, Toby struggled to find it in New Zealand. 

It turns out, Elysian Foods is the only producer of Taramasalata in the country. Concerned his favourite dip could disappear off the shelves, he decided to buy the business!

Thistle Inn first placed their order of olives and Taramasalata, back in 2019 after the Wellington Wine and Food Show at Waitangi Park, Wellington. You’ll still find those divine dips and olives on the menu today. 


Zane Allmand, Executive Chef, works closely with Richie when brainstorming menu ideas. Zane joined the team at Thistle Inn about six years ago.

The team visit pubs and restaurants regularly, both in New Zealand and Australia, checking how their menu compares.

The approach works, because Thistle Inn has been awarded Best Gastropub in the Lower North Island 2024 - congratulations! Zane and Richie don’t want to offer standard pub food, instead they strive for refined pub food with flair, and we think they’ve done a great job!


 “I like to use seasonal ingredients and try different things. How food is presented is really important.”

Zane Allmand, Executive Chef, Thistle Inn

Zane says supporting local suppliers is important to him. He likes to know where his ingredients come from and how fresh they are. Being local, and on a sustainability journey, Toby often delivers Zane’s orders on his bicycle after working in the Elysian factory - it always makes the Thistle Inn team smile.

Zane, Richie and Toby at Thistle Inn

Zane, Richie and Toby at Thistle Inn

To check out the menu at Thistle Inn, or to book a table visit their website.

A huge thank you to Richie and Zane for taking the time to chat with us - we can’t wait to see which award you take out next!

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