Our People: Dave Catchpole, Business Leader and Shareholder of The Zookeeper’s Son
Tales Of Joy Dave Catchpole

Dave is a beloved figure in the hospitality community, especially among his staff and customers. He currenly leads The Zookeeper’s Son in Royal Oak, Auckland - but he started his journey by attaining many certificates in hospitality.

His career really kicked off in February 2002 where he worked at Auckland’s iconic Degree Gastrobar in downtown Auckland. As head chef there, he became known for his Jamaican Curry - it remained on Degree’s menu during his entire tenure and it even followed him to The Zookeeper’s Son. Between those locations, he managed the restaurant at Goode Brothers, Takapuna before he was approached to partner with Joylab founders for a new location - now The Zookeeper’s Son.

“It was very interesting watching John and Gavin grow their portfolio of bars, they were taking on partners who otherwise wouldn’t have the funding or experience to get into their own businesses. I could see this is something I wanted to be a part of - John’s advice was while I knew how to run a kitchen, it was important to know the front of house. So, after my Head Chef shift finished I would work running drinks in the evening and being told to take multiple tables on one tray to ‘save my legs’!”

While Dave was learning the ropes of almost every facet of the business, he witnessed the growth of Joylab from a handful of bars to running over 20 top-notch establishments. A lot changed, but one thing remained the same - a down-to-earth attitude that came from the top down.

“John and Gavin had an ability to gather like-minded individuals to partner with… it’s been a real priviledge to be associated with them”

Dave’s most rewarding component of his job is watching his young staff starting off - some with no work experience at all - and growing to become confident, hardworking successful young people. Casting the net a little wider, he also loves being part of a community and seeing customers celebrate important milestones in their lives. He fondly remembers watching the All blacks win back to back RWC finals at The Zookeepers Son - something he’ll never forget - and nor will the entire crew packed to the rafters that night.

You can meet Dave and his team at The Zookeeper’s Son

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