Restaurants in trouble – who knows?
A Wellington food wholesaler suggests the rumours may be true.
The wholesaler said there was a feeling that quite a number of restaurants in and around the city were struggling, and some may close after Christmas. Recently Kayu Manis on Cuba Street, and The Eating House on the Terrace have closed.
However an American website specialising in the worldwide hospitality trade says that although there are now fewer hospitality businesses in the Wellington region than last year, in the city hospitality business numbers are pretty steady and employment numbers have increased slightly.
Featherston St restaurateur and bar owner, Andrew Hadley of Capri, says since his venue has become more of a dining restaurant they’ve seen more diners, both at lunchtime and in the evening, “and our Christmas function bookings are nearly full up”.
He says things look good at the moment, although managing is tricky “because now, we often get 50 people, but occasionally we might get only five”. Lunchtime weather has a noticeable effect on customer numbers. “We always do well on wet days, but if it’s a lovely day some people just buy takeaways and go across to the wharf”.
Over at Leuven, also on Featherston Street, Todd Hunter thinks the World Cup soaked up a lot of disposable income, and says some restaurants could be having a bad time. He says the competition is certainly on, “lots of people are looking for something for nothing” and many restaurants are resorting to two for one deals or special website offers. He thinks quite a number of restaurants may have been hedging their bets on the Rugby World Cup, which “didn’t really happen”.
He takes pride in the fact that Leuven has been going for 11 years, and says he only closes on Christmas Day. “Wellington diners are business people during the week, but tourist ships bring some business, and as the city becomes more and more of a tourist destination, we are seeing more of them in the weekends”.
He adds cautionary note: “With the upgrading of the Auckland viaduct and Wynyard quarter and better transport to their stadium we will need to look after the rugby 7’s or they’ll take it off us and it’s one of Wellington’s iconic events”.
Both men mention the number of takeaway outlets in the area, and it certainly looks possible that much of the CBD lunchtime trade might be going to takeaway stores. Two new outlets on Jervois Quay by the Z petrol station have joined the plethora of sushi and takeaway places in the area. There’s a new Wholly Bagels opening, and an Auckland takeaway chain, Habitual Fix, has just opened its first Wellington store there, right beside the breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant Trade Kitchen.
Trade Kitchen’s Ollie Edwards says this is all good, “More restaurants together mean that people go to the area to eat, and we all do better”. He says the north end of Wellington’s CBD is becoming a food destination like Courtenay Place or Cuba St ”, and laughs at talk of restaurant closures, cheerfully saying “More people will come here”.