The premises housing one of New Zealand’s most successful restaurants and bars – in the absolute heart of Auckland’s premier hospitality hub – have been placed on the marketed for sale.
Soul Bar and Restaurant in Auckland’s Viaduct has consistently been among the best performing hospitality destinations in New Zealand since it opened in 2001. The single level ground floor premises housing Soul’s operations sits underneath the Sebel Hotel overlooking a marina full of multi-million dollar yachts and launches.
The physical venue at 85 – 93 Customs Street East first emerged as a hospitality destination around the year 2000 when the location first hosted upmarket seafood-themed eatery FINZ. The opening of FINZ was part of the ‘birth’ of the Viaduct as a consequence of New Zealand winning the America’s Cup.
Soul Bar and Bistro is often described as New Zealand’s ‘economic barometer’ – referring to the number of corporate diners who can be seen lunching on the balcony on any given Thursday or Friday.
Soul Bar and Bistro is one of New Zealand’s most decorated food and beverage venues – winning such titles as:
• Supreme winner at the Hospitality Zealand Awards for Excellence in 2010
• Winner of the Best Restaurant category at the Hospitality Zealand Awards for Excellence in 2009, 2010, and 2012
• Winner of the Excellence in Customer Service category at the Hospitality Zealand Awards for Excellence in 2009, 2010, and 2011, as well as taking out the Excellence in Training and Staff Development category for four consecutive years from 2009, and the Excellence in Marketing accolade in 2009 and
• Outstanding Waiter in 2015 and 2017 and Hospitality Personality of the Year in 2014 at the Lewisham Awards run by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand.
The leasehold unit-titled building at 85 – 93 Custom Street West containing Soul Bar and Bistro is being marketed for sale at auction on October 25 through Bayleys Auckland. Salesperson Mark Pittaway said the building featured 475 square metres of indoor dining floor area, kitchen space, staff amenities, and bar area, with a further 153 square metres of covered outdoor deck area also used for dining and drinking.
Mr Pittaway said Soul’s location on the apex of the Viaduct’s two ‘arms’ of bars and restaurants gave the venue unobstructed views down the marina toward the setting sun. He pointed out that just the premises are being sold as a tenanted investment, and not Soul’s business.
Soul is currently on a lease running through until 2026, with two further six-year rights of renewal, generating an annual rental of $437,500 + GST from December this year. The property - along with the other properties associated with the building - have been professionally managed by a corporate property services company throughout its association with Soul.
Mr Pittaway said that level of property commitment by the tenant had ensured the restaurant and bar complex maintained a consummate air of professionalism and appearance throughout its distinguished life.
All outgoings for the unit-titled property – including ground rental – are paid by Soul. Rental reviews are conducted annually, and are linked to the Consumer Price Index plus 0.5 percent. The property is zoned business – city centre zone.
The lessor’s interest is held by Viaduct Harbour Holdings Limited, with the next ground lease renewal and rent review scheduled for early 2019. The ground lease is perpetually renewed for 21 years.
Mr Pittaway said the Viaduct was now firmly established as Auckland’s premier hospitality hub - both by the number of licenced operations immediately adjacent to each other, and by geography.
“The long-term future of the property at 85 – 93 Customs Street East is underpinned by the extension of the current lease, in conjunction with the rights of renewal through to 2038. With the return of the America’s Cup in four years, the Viaduct should once again see scenes reminiscent of those witnessed in the 1999 – 2003 heydays,” he said.
“The America’s Cup victory of 1995 which bought the event to Auckland for the first time was the catalyst for regeneration of this part of the waterfront. That development continued on past 2000 when Team New Zealand retained the ‘Auld mug’ until the 2003 America’s Cup.
“Throughout that period Soul has remained as a beacon for diners and bar customers – catering to both the leisure and corporate sectors. Now the resulting infrastructure in and around the Viaduct is a magnet for visitors – both local and international – attending a large array of sporting-associated events,” Mr Pittaway said.
“These include the likes of the Rugby World Cup, two Lions tours, the Cricket World Cup, two Volvo Around the World Yacht Race stop-overs, the World Masters Games, and now sustained throughout summer by the proliferation of cruise liners berthing in Auckland on an almost daily basis.
“Then there’s general public events such as New Zealand Fashion Week, the Auckland on Water boat Show, and dozens of conferences being held throughout the year at the nearby ANZ Viaduct Events Centre. All of these feed in solid customer numbers for Soul and the greater Viaduct precinct.
Mr Pittaway said Soul’s presence had remained at the pinnacle of Auckland’s corporate and high-end social scene for almost two decades.
“While the course, bases, and format of the next America’s Cup have yet to be finalised, what will be happening is that the corporate support networks for syndicates is being planned. When the event proper commences, the area will see the arrival of the very affluent spectators who follow the sport, not to mention team owners and their entourages,” he said.