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Monday, April 4, 2011

Bar boss keen to reopen in honour of patron

Bar boss keen to reopen in honour of patron

Last updated 05:00 05/04/2011
A Christchurch businesswoman is determined to open a new inner-city bar in memory of a customer who died in February's earthquake.

Alex Brackston, who co-owns three central-city bars with business partner Bill Ness, said that despite not knowing the future of her businesses, she was set on opening a new bar almost immediately.

Brackston, 36, said she and Ness were in final negotiations on taking over a contract for the Pegasus Arms Tavern in Oxford Tce.

"It's an iconic Christchurch pub and we hope to return it to its former glory," she said. "It suffered hardly any damage in the quake and it's in a perfect location."

The pair own The Bard on Avon in Gloucester St and the Vespa Room in Poplar Ln, both of which have been red-stickered. They also own His Lordship's Cafe and Bar in SOL Square, which has been yellow-stickered.

"I was in Sydney when the earthquake hit and I thought for sure that we'd lose all three," Brackston said. "Communication has been frustrating and we really don't know a lot."

She said she had been escorted into the red zone to inspect her three businesses, and their fate depended on the state of the buildings around them.

The Vespa had been quake-strengthened, but the floors above had suffered damage.

The Bard on Avon was deemed unsafe because of falling glass from the neighbouring Brannigans building.

"We don't know how long it will be until we can trade again, when we'll be allowed back in or even if the businesses will ever trade again," Brackston said.

She said she wanted to open a pub quickly to provide a place where people could congregate and to commemorate the life of Joe Pohio.

Pohio was one of the first Christchurch quake victims to be named. He was killed by falling debris when he went to the aid of a woman in the High St food court.

He worked for the Christchurch City Council and was a regular customer at The Bard on Avon.

"Losing Joe was absolutely the worst thing about this earthquake. Everything paled into insignificance with Joe passing," Brackston said.

"Seeing his body at the funeral made it totally clear to me. It gave me the strength to know that we need to rebuild a community pub for Joe. So when we do reopen, the first thing we'll do is have a party for him."

She said Ness, whose Redcliffs house suffered moderate damage in the February 22 quake, was visiting family in England and shared her vision.

"Christchurch is amazing and it will be amazing again and it's an exciting time I have faith that our new city will be really brilliant."

The three bars employed between 40 and 60 staff, but most have now left the city in search of other work.

- The Press

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