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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Uncertain future for eateries

Uncertain future for eateries

Last updated 09:18 11/03/2011
Among the rubble of the central city are what's left of some of Christchurch's most loved bars and restaurants.

It is too soon to say which have been closed for good and which will manage to reopen or rebuild, but at least one Christchurch institution has vowed to return.

Cafe Valentino, owned by Michael Turner, suffered extensive damage in the earthquake.

"In a word: terminal," he said.

Turner has not yet been granted access to the building, which is inside the cordon on Colombo St. He has been told it was red-stickered.

But plans are already afoot for a new restaurant on the same site in the future.

"My instructions to the architect were to build a new building that looks one hundred years old on the day we open."

Turner said all staff and customers made it out of the wrecked building safely, and chef Damon Strong deserved a "hospitality Victoria Cross" for re- entering the building to turn the gas main off.

Although Cafe Valentino will emerge in a new building, Turner said it will bear the same name, and he hopes to salvage some of the memorabilia from the old restaurant.

"We honour the past at Cafe Valentino."

The restaurant had insurance that will cover it for the next 12 months, but the rebuild is likely to take longer than that.

Turner said key staff will be retained.

The future is not as clear-cut for another mainstay of the Christchurch hospitality industry.

The owner of Winnie Bagoes, Geoff Cavell, said he is thinking hard about the business's options.

The popular pizza restaurant moved to Victoria Square in October last year, after its original Gloucester St site partly collapsed in the September 4 earthquake.

The Victoria Square venue was then damaged in the Boxing Day aftershocks.

After the 6.3 earthquake, the roof caved in and one of the walls fell down.

"It's bloody surreal as far as I'm concerned," he said about the turn of events since September last year.

"I've had the restaurant for 16 years now. Just as we thought we were getting somewhere - it was going to be exciting what we could do with the Victoria Square building . . . "

Cavell will now turn his attentions to Winnie Bagoes' other branch, in Ferrymead, which reopened yesterday, but is also pondering other options for the brand.

He has considered leasing in the suburbs, but doesn't want to a long lease as he wants to move back into the central city as soon as it is possible.

He has also thought about opening a North Island store, and returning to Christchurch when the city centre is ready to rebuild.

Shut and Open:

Some of those closed until further notice:

* The Curator's House restaurant in the Botanic Gardens. Their website said they expect to reopen "as soon as amenities are restored and the building given clearance".

* Cook 'N' With Gas Bistro on Worcester Blvd. Their website said they managed to escape major damage, all their staff are safe, but "the gas is out til further notice".

* Strawberry Fare on Peterborough St. Their website said they promise to be back soon.

* Restaurant Schwass on Ferry Rd. Their website said: "Please give us time to rebuild and we will return bigger and stronger."

* The Belgian Beer Cafe Torenhof. Their website said: "We hope you guys got through the quake all right? We didn't. At this stage we have to wait for further inspections to find out if we can reopen, if at all."

* Restaurant Retour, in the Band Rotunda. Their website said it is closed until further notice.

* St Germain in Cathedral Junction. Their website said: "Thank you all for your support in the past, it is really appreciated. We will let you know when St Germain is up and running again."

* The Twisted Hop in Poplar Lane. Their website said: "The building is still standing, although it has sustained more damage than in the previous quake . . . We do not know what the future holds for the Hop, nor indeed for the central city."

Open and ready for business:

* Trevinos in Riccarton.
* Thai Orchid in Riccarton.
* Arjee Bhajee in Riccarton.
* Lone Star at the Bush Inn centre.
* Edesia in Addington.
* EAT in Addington.
* Harringtons in Belfast.
* West Coast Bar & Grill in Papanui.
* Brigittes in Merivale.
* JDV in Merivale.
* No 4 Bar in Merivale.
* Winnie Bagoes in Ferrymead.

- The Press

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