Hospitality’s new destination
Two unlikely locations – in the heart of suburbs previously tenanted mostly by light industrial and commercial businesses – have emerged as cutting-edge hospitality destinations.
These new entertainment precincts are evolving on the back of the rise of craft beer as one of the most dynamic segments of the food and drinks scene – along with innovative eateries.
Far from the established evening crowds, these hotspots are out in the ‘burbs – making them destinations for those travelling into the locations, and magnets for the locals.
In Auckland, Grafton through to Morningside is the epicentre, featuring breweries with both on and off-premises licences.
The trend is replicated in Wellington, where Upper Hutt is home to the region’s cutting-edge food and drinks hub.
Auckland: city of ales
At its north-eastern extreme, the Auckland zone is anchored by two independently-run haunts in a two-storey 1930s ex-post office on 393m² of commercially-zoned land.
The Beer Jerk Bunker Bar, with some 300 alternative-label bevvies, is in the 40m² basement. On the 100m² ground floor, Save Ferris has opened New Zealand’s first ‘craft beer parlour and amusement arcade’ – featuring pinball, pool tables and retro games such as Donkey Kong. The rest of the building is office space.
A few hundred metres away in Eden Terrace is the Brothers Brewery & Juke Joint, combining a bar and southern barbecue restaurant in a 1960s-style, 762m² sawtooth-roof warehouse. A loading zone has been converted to a kid’s play area and outdoor seating.
Around the corner, innovative Wellington brewer Garage Project is running a retail off-premise operation in New North Road, with office space on the upper level. Once home to uniforms manufacturer Elizabeth Michael, the venue occupies a 368m² two-storey 1980s warehousing building. It regularly partners with food trucks.
Towards Eden Park in Charles Street, surrounded by light industry, Behemoth has taken out a 20-year lease on a 1,000m² property which was previously Woolf Mufflers for 50 years, and other craft beer firms are taking up residence further toward Western Springs.
Urbanaut Brewing Co. occupies the upper floor of a 600m², 1950s-style warehouse, which houses its brewing operation. Previously home to First Scene Costume and Party Hire, it offers tastings and takeaways.
Across the road, trailblazer The Beer Spot will soon open in a refurbished 260m² property with a garden bar. The Beer Spot brand launched in 2016 in light industrial, high-stud, concrete-floored premises with no street frontage in Northcote – now one of the North Shore’s most profitable hospitality operations.
Wellington: factories re-engineered
Upper Hutt City Council has been quick to market Brewtown as a destination food and drinks experience at the former Dunlop tyre-manufacturing plant in the South Pacific Industrial park, 800 metres from the town centre.
Three local brewers – Boneface, Te Aro and Panhead (now owned by the Lion Group) – sit in the converted 36,000m2 plant, with Kereru Brewery over the fence in a former linoleum manufacturing and warehousing complex.
Boneface and Panhead both operate under on-premise licence bylaws, serving food, while Te Aro and Kereru serve product under retail off-premise regulations. All four run substantial brewing plant – allowed under the commercial/industrial zonings. Together they attract large Friday and Saturday night crowds.
Joining soon are a wine bar plus Wild Kiwi Distillery, producing whisky, bourbon, gin and vodka. By this time next year, the site will house seven liquor and food-related experiences.
Brewtown’s owners will collect visitors from cruise ships for a unique food and beverage experience.
Craft beer in New Zealand is now so successful that Bayleys has established a specialist sales and leasing team for this niche segment of commercial property.
Bayleys’ national retail sales and leasing director Chris Beasleigh says the minimalist, industrial chic of the new venues is a reflection of their tenants.
“As with its product offering, the craft beer sector is also cutting-edge in its real estate profile.
“Stereotypically, ‘mainstream’ hospitality operations are located in areas with high foot traffic volumes, city centre or suburban retail hubs, high streets and malls,” says Beasleigh.
“The new venues are more ‘destinations’ which are out of the way. They’re places you specifically go to, rather than wander past. They are edgy and not afraid of taking risks – yet also very calculating from a wider business perspective.
“As a result, their tenancy terms are often at far lower per square metre rates. That’s a smart business move driving straight to the bottom line.
“Additionally, and replicating craft beer’s persona, the new wave of premises could be termed ‘grunge’ – although the more technical term would be industrial. Yet, ironically, they are usually more family-friendly than many of the bars whose target market is 18 – 28-year-olds.”
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