Brothers banking on Bodega venture

Last updated 05:00 28/01/2014
Wellington restaurateurs Lorenzo and Leonardo Bresolin outside the old Bodega building
BODEGA BONANZA: Wellington restaurateurs Lorenzo and Leonardo Bresolin outside the old Bodega building on Willis St, where the brothers plan the biggest project of their careers so far.

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The empty shell of a former much-loved Wellington bar will soon buzz with revelry again after being bought by a pair of city restaurateurs with big plans.

Brothers Lorenzo and Leonardo Bresolin - sons of Il Casino creator Remiro Bresolin - have bought the old Bodega building at 278 Willis St, and plan their biggest restaurant project yet, set to open in June.

"We do have a name for it, but I will bite my tongue on that at this stage," Lorenzo said. "We aim to be open in June this year.

"It's the shell of a big, beautiful old building . . . there is a bit of work to do. But we are really excited about it."

The restaurant will use both storeys and the building's courtyard, offering a dining area upstairs with a bar and beer garden below. "It's modern New Zealand cuisine, shared dining, for the people. Very much in the vein of a local pub where friends and families meet."

The brothers, behind city restaurants Duke Carvell's, Scopa and Crazy Horse, will co-host a new television show, The Great Food Race, on TV3 from Sunday, the latest step in their careers following in their father's footsteps.

He emigrated from Italy in 1972. Il Casino, in Tory St, became known as one of Wellington's best upmarket dining options. It closed the year before his death in 2007, aged 56.

The brothers bought the old Bodega building in August last year for $441,000 through their company, Dough Investments.

It dates from 1901 and was bought by the New Zealand Transport Agency and moved to 278 Willis St during construction of the inner-city motorway.

Also a popular cafe, Bar Bodega opened in 1991 and became a major destination for live music, playing host to bands like The White Stripes, The Phoenix Foundation and Head Like a Hole.

It moved to its current home in Ghuznee St shortly after the building was bought by NZTA in 2002.

A short-lived bar, Lilo, took over the site briefly but it has been empty since Lilo closed.

Former Bodega owner Fraser McInnes said he was glad to see the property in good hands. "It's a good site and I hope they do well."

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