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Bossi: How a family business became the it-spot in Auckland

Jenna Carter, the woman behind one of Auckland’s most famous Italian restaurants, Bossi, talks to Idealog about being a businesswoman in New Zealand’s vibrant hospitality industry.

“It’s actually an amalgamation of two nicknames,” says Jenna Carter, Founder of Bossi, as she explains the origins of her restaurant’s unique name.

Heavily inspired by her Nonna (grandmother), it felt only right to name the restaurant after the pet names she gave Carter and her brother – Possi and Bello respectively.

“When we were trying to think of a name for the restaurant, my mum actually came up with the name. We had lots of different ideas and Italian words but we wanted to have something that people could say easily and remember and so we decided on Bossi and plus, it has a special meaning for us,” says Carter.

For Carter, Bossi as a restaurant reflects her Nonna, who always brought the entire family together through her food and passion for cooking before she died.

“She’s passed that passion of food and cooking onto me. We can all lead busy lives and sometimes we have good days and sometimes we have bad days but knowing that at the end of that day you all come together and share a meal and a laugh, and that’s what life’s about and that’s what kind of grounds us,” says Carter.

The main attraction of the restaurant is a portrait of her Nonna overlooking the space which Carter feels is a place she can “go and talk to her”.

Originally from Victoria in Australia, Carter and her family moved to Auckland 15 years ago. Her career had been in sales and marketing but opening her own restaurant has always been on her mind. Once in New Zealand, Carter felt inspired to live out that dream and carry on her Nonna’s legacy by opening an Italian restaurant.

Carter took the leap when she found the perfect place on the ground floor of The Pacifica building in the heart of Auckland CBD and managed to acquire during Auckland’s longest Covid-19 lockdown in August 2021.

Read more: The king of restaurateurs, David Lee talks on the journey of creating a business

At the time, Carter saw this as one of the most challenging times when creating Bossi as everything was over Zoom and decision making still had some uncertainty to it.

Since opening the space in late 2022, Bossi has attracted the entire city, which Carter says is thanks to the restaurant being an icon of “traditional dining”.

“Having a restaurant and starting it from scratch gives you that creative outlet, so it allows you to draw on anything creative. It allows you to draw from past experiences and that’s exactly what Bossi is,” she adds.

Inside Bossi.

“We are really grateful to be among so many amazing Italian restaurants in Auckland, and the great thing about Italian food is that there are so many different regions of Italy, different recipes, different style of cooking, and the way of Bossi is how I grew up. So, these are the recipes that I cooked with my Nonno and Nonna and Italian food is simplicity at its best, simple, quality, fresh ingredients and letting those flavours shine and hopefully transport you to your favourite little Italian memory.”

As a family-owned business, Carter says the secret to their success is their family-like team who all understand and honour the traditions and authenticity she wants to portray.

Carter sees her businesses Bossi and Deli de Bossi (a deli extension of the restaurant in the same space) getting even bigger to become a staple in not just Auckland but New Zealand dining.

But most importantly she wants the two eateries to stay true to their family roots.

“It’s super important to me that no matter what happens, Bossi remains a family restaurant and my kids come in there after school and when they’ve got time off or they’re on holidays and I want to see my kids work there if they want, it’s a place for them to hang out and help if I’m lucky, help making those memories for them,” she adds.

“And that comes back to the fact that we’re lucky to have a small family run business so we can continue to pass these recipes and passions onto the next generation.”

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

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