New faces coming to Backbencher

COMING BACK: Backbencher owner Alistair Boyce with some of the puppets.
COMING BACK: Backbencher owner Alistair Boyce with some of the puppets.

The Backbencher pub will be back to "keep them honest" by February, though the fire that gutted the building has not been without casualties.

In June, a fire took hold of the politically themed Molesworth St pub and restaurant, causing major damage to the kitchen and interior.

The pub has since been out of action and owner Alistair Boyce first predicted a return within a month, but it has taken much longer to sort out insurance and conduct repairs.

Many of the Backbencher's beloved political puppets were damaged in the fire and although they are being remade over the next few months, several well-known faces won't be back.

Among the casualties are UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples and former ACT leaders Rodney Hide and Don Brash.

"They are gone, finished, washed up, whatever," Mr Boyce said.

New faces will replace the old, but Mr Boyce hinted there would be one "quite tenacious, outspoken" face from the old guard that would be returning.

He also said Maoridom and women would be represented.

There was still quite a bit of work to do inside the building, but all going to plan, he was aiming for a February comeback.

"If I had power over the decision it would have been amazing. We are now in the middle of demolition and have a programme in the works to be open in February."

For the most part, insurance had come through, though it had not been without hassles. Mr Boyce has now put up a billboard outside his pub outlining the process he is going through to get back up and running. "It's just drama; I'd rather be open doing my thing, but these thing are forced on you."

He hoped the pub would be back for at least another 20 years to "keep them honest".

The June 8 fire was caused by spontaneously combusting tea towels.

The Dominion Post