Last orders called on pubs
What does it take to make something work in Auckland? You would think, in a city of one point something million folk, we'd be gagging for a cosy corner to sip a beer and climbing over each other to find a spot to be serenaded by a dodgy cover band.
So it was surprising to hear both the Dogs Bollix and Khuja Lounge are shutting up shop. And on top of that, K Rd staple D.O.C is on the market.
Love them, hate them, barely remember them, these have been cornerstones (or at least humble bricks) in the Auckland social scene for more years than I can remember.
The Bollix was one of the first pubs I was taken to when I arrived in Auckland. It's where I have spent rainy Sunday afternoons hiding from overcrowded flats. I have watched friends bands play live and hated football teams play on the big screen. I had my first Guinness there.
And a liquidation sale just finished for the Irish pub's fixtures.
Khuja Lounge was a regular Friday night favourite when I was living a former life, with friends I now don't see nearly often enough.
The bar at the top of those stairs closed its doors for the final time last night.
But maybe that's it. Maybe trends change and times get tough because of it. Sadly, these depressing examples do not exist in a vacuum.
Dance haven Zen and Fu Bar closed down last year. Parnell's Iguacu Restaurant and Cin Cin on Quay both said their farewell's earlier this year.
And more recently, and away from the food and drink side of things, art house specialists Academy Cinema has been sold because of the financial challenge of operating.
The thing that strikes me about all of these is that none of them are new. I always thought the old adage "the first year is the hardest" was one hospo people lived by. But The Dogs Bollix opened in 1996, Khuja in 1997. Iguacu had been a staple for more than a decade and Cin Cin since the 1980s.
So what is it that has forced them to shut up shop? Maybe it's a case of too many options. It feels like there is a new bar or restaurant opening up, popping up, or springing up almost every week. Are we Aucklanders just so fickle, or short in the memory banks, that we forget about the old favourites too quickly.
Perhaps the term "old favourite" now applies to something a few weeks old, rather than years.
Or is it just a natural rate of attrition in a tough industry?
Don't get me wrong, I love discovering new gems as much as the next person, and Auckland does the food and drink thing really, really well. But what is the tipping point? At what moment are we sacrificing the old for the new? And do we hungry consumers even care?
* The Dogs Bollix has since reopened under a new owner.