Matterhorn owners to quit city

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 09/04/2014

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Wellington

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The Matterhorn, one of Wellington's best-loved restaurants, is looking for a new owner once more.

Pack & Company, the Auckland hospitality firm that bought it in 2010, has decided to sell it and two other Wellington businesses - the Foxglove on the waterfront, and the Lone Star in Tory St.

The Cuba Mall restaurant has held its position as one of the most popular eateries in the city since the 1960s.

Pack & Company co-founder Simon Ansley, who runs the business with his twin brother Sam and Mark Keddell, Matt Bould and Kate Prangnell, said they felt the time was right to sell.

The past few years had seen them look to consolidate assets for family and commercial reasons.

"This has been in the air for a while," he said. "We were looking at when and how we could exit Wellington and just become an Auckland hospitality company, which is easier for us to manage."

Commercially, the past two years had been tough, particularly in Wellington.

Prime Minister John Key's comments about the "dying city" last year had hurt. "I never believed it was the case, but rumours can create substance," Ansley said.

However, confidence was returning and, on the back of positive results, the restaurants might be attractive propositions for a buyer through a formal sale process, he said.

"Doing it informally, as we had been for the last six months, hasn't really been working."

Matterhorn has survived multiple changes of ownership. Before Pack's takeover, it was owned and operated by the quartet of Christian McCabe, Sam Chapman, Leon Surynt and Adan Tijerina for 13 years.

Ansley said anyone who looked to buy it was more of a custodian of the old brand than an owner. "It's not just dollars and cents . . . there's a lot of reasons to get involved in Matterhorn . . . we learned a lot from it."

Mike Egan, the Wellington-based national president of the Restaurant Association, said Pack might have made the right decision.

"If you don't love your business in this industry, you get found out," he said.

"Better to sell if your heart's not in it than suffer death by a thousand cuts."

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- The Dominion Post

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