Wellington music venue mainstay to close

00:30, Jul 19 2013
HAPPIER TIMES: Deva Mahal, Sheba Williams and band at an Ella Fitzgerald tribute night in 2004.

Wellington music scene mainstay Sandwiches is closing down amid major concerns over earthquake strengthening for their Kent Tce building.

On the verge of celebrating their tenth birthday, the live music venue and its associated restaurant Pickle have announced they will be closing their doors on August 3.

Owner Bryce Mason said he had been in discussions with both the landlord and Wellington City Council over the last few months, but in recent weeks it became clear the building needed "major" work.

"It's going to need four to six months worth of work and it would just be impossible to continue trading during that. We looked at a scenario where they could fix Sandwiches, then Pickle, but it just wouldn't work."

Built in the 1930s, the building - which also has advertising firm Clemenger BBDO as tenants - will need most of the concrete replaced and reinforced, Mr Mason said.

The twelve staff at Sandwiches and Pickle were told the news last night, and Mason will be assisting them in finding new work.


"It was a humbling experience, telling them. They will all be looking for new work and they're all amazing people. I had a few tears in my eyes, that's for sure."

While Mason hoped that Sandwiches and Pickle may be resurrected in some form in time, for now he was looking at other opportunities.

"We want to go out on a high. The brand will live on but we are not sure how at this stage. We'll take a break, reassess and work out the next move. But as we know it, Sandwiches is coming to an end in three weeks."

The impending changes to Wellington's alcohol laws also complicated the situation, with bars likely to face mandatory 4am closures over the summer once the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act changes come into play.

Until Wellington develops a local alcohol policy, bars will be forced to comply with the default closing hours set by central government.

"It's not viable for Sandwiches to close for six months then reappear again," Mason said.

"The 4am closure from December means there isn't a positive scene to come back to anyway. It's not a pretty picture at the moment."

While Mason would "never say never" to returning to the same Kent Tce building, there were plenty of other ventures to explore, such as pop up venues and larger events.

"We hope this can turn into a positive thing, a new opportunity. It's hard but it's out of our hands."

The Dominion Post