By Kayte John
Before the February earthquake we were spoilt for choice. Christchurch was alive with colour and atmosphere. It offered us a vibrant and varied entertainment scene with something to suit all ages, tastes and budgets.
And then, in the blink of an eye, all the flavours that delivered spice to our lives simply vanished.
The last nine months has left us questioning what to do on a weekend. If you visit the suburbs on a weekend you will see bars and restaurants jam packed full of people. A suburban bar that was once your quiet local now requires a dress code, bouncer and a never-ending queue to enter and not everybody wants this. People are still going out and will continue to; but since February a trend of necessity hit Christchurch that’s not going away fast — staying in.
Many people are choosing to stay in even though there are a wide range of suburban places to go to for a night out. For most people they just don’t compare to the city atmosphere or may be too far out. Another common factor is money, people are realising its cheaper to stay in and have a good time rather than go out.
These ‘nights in’ are great; you get to spent quality time with friends and wake up without thinking you’ve been robbed because how much the drinks cost.
The trend to stay in has attracted not only people but businesses. Jason Roberts, a solicitor by day and party planner by night, saw this trend as an opportunity. Roberts, who owns tourism-based events company Happy J, was determined to carry on but couldn’t continue organising centre city events. A clear cut case of adapt or perish.
“I decided not to sit my hands and sulk. I launched HappyHire. It specialises in the hire of marquees, disco lights, PA systems, portable bars and much more,” Roberts says. HappyHire deliver, set-up and remove everything, saving customers the hassle. It caters for special events such as weddings and birthdays. However, Roberts has seen an increase of people hiring his products for no special occasion but purely because they want a ‘night in’.
“There are fewer options for people to go out and less options for people that are convenient. People have become more cautious about what they spend. You can have a very good event at home for a lot cheaper then having it out somewhere,” he says.
Along with HappyHire, Phil Kraal, owner of the Crumpet Club and catering company Le Bon Bolli, gave Christchurch residents the opportunity to come and dine at his home in Governors Bay. The fine-dining venue catered for groups of 18 to 22, with a nine-course degustation menu plus pre-dinner treats for $120. “It’s a great setting and I think people enjoyed the quirkiness of coming to dinner at a chef’s house. A lot of people in our market had lost their wine stock and I think they thought ‘let’s drink what’s left and live for today’,” Kraal says.
Kraal has recently opened Bamboozle, an oriental fushion restaurant in Sumner.
Lyme Bar’s Callum Batchelor has been hosting cocktail evenings in people’s homes. “More people are choosing to stay in and instead of having to be the host, they hire me and relax with their guests,” he says. Offering his service with a personal touch Batchelor provides the glassware, and talks to the clients to find out what cocktails, drinks they want to provide for their event. “Who else can say that they host a party for a living,” Batchelor says.
Another Christchurch resident, Jackie Bellis, can. Since the earthquake she has been hosting slumber parties. These parties are aimed at women over the age of 18 who want to have some laughter and fun in the comfort of their own home. Bellis and the Christchurch team of eight are doing around 25 parties a week.
“The earthquake has changed the way we shop and socialise. People are realising they don’t have to go out to have a good time,” Bellis says.
Familiar faces . . . where are they now?
Whether you choose to stay in or go out, new bars and restaurants are finally re-opening, giving us the choice again.
Dux de Lux
Owner Richard Sinke has opened the doors of a new live music bar — Dux Live — on the corner of Lincoln Rd and Moorhouse Ave. Dux Live will host live bands and provide their famous craft beers along with their yummy pizzas and snack menu. Next year Sinke is planning to open Dux Dine, a restaurant which will feature their full food menu.
Good news for those with a sweet tooth, Strawberry Fare is re-opening on Bealey Ave in the former Harpers restaurant site. Café Metro is also moving to Merivale’s container complex on the corner of Merivale Lane and Papanui Road which opens mid December.
Honey Pot Café
Re-opened on Colombo Street in Sydenham, the café still offers its great tasting coffee and delicious menu, along with the friendly staff and great service. Its new dinner menu is well worth trying as it has retained all of its old favourite dishes.
Bangalore Polo Club
The building on the strip was recently demolished but they vow to return. In the meantime check out Parklands Tavern, also owned by Louis Vieceli. A major revamp has transformed it into a sports bar and restaurant.
Belgian Beer Café
Owner Mark McGuinness is not letting his red stickered building prevent him from moving forward. He has plans to reopen a smaller Belgian Beer Café and restaurant in the suburbs until he can move back to the city.
Dimitris has re-opened on Mandeville Street in Riccarton, operating from its well known caravan. As a staff member said, “We don’t give up easily”.
Burgers and Beers
Burgers and Beers was the brainchild of Andrew Brown, executive chef of The George. It now operates in Sydenham, again offering its great tasting homemade burgers, famous chips and gravy.
Lyme Bar on Colombo Street was one of Christchurch’s best kept secrets. There are plans to reopen but in the meantime check out Cargo Bar on Lincoln Road for its unique jam-jar cocktails, wine list and gourmet pizzas.
Flying Burrito Brothers
Flying Burrito Brothers has re-opened just outside Northlands Mall in the old Pizza Hut, again serving up margaritas, delicious burritos, fajitas and filling nachos.
The Twisted Hop
The twisted Hop has plans to re-open in Poplar Lane. In the meantime it’s looking to relocate and open two bars in Lincoln and Woolston. A lease has also been signed to open its brewery in Sockburn on an industrial site.
Dumplings was located in Shades Arcade. Its world famous in Christchurch $2 rice made it a lunch destination for everyone. It has moved to Riccarton Road (close to Westfield Mall).
Moroccan restaurant Simos, previously on Cashel Street, has moved to Lincoln Road and is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-9pm. It has also opened Vivesano on Shakespeare Road, offering customers the best Moroccan and Andalalusian food products in Christchurch.