Old pub has cafe future

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 06:58 24/04/2014
 Travellers Rest
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

GLORY DAYS GONE: Appleby's Travellers Rest near Richmond is on the market for $750,000.

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Appleby's Travellers Rest near Richmond is up for sale and unlikely to ever open its doors again as a tavern.

Gone are the days when advertisements for the Travellers Rest offered good stabling, horse and carriage hire, good accommodation for travellers and families and the best brands of wine and spirits.

First opened in 1851 as a hotel, the Travellers was not just a venue for social gatherings but also for meetings, posting of election information and for coroner's inquests - one of which in 1857 ruled that Frederick Lange, who left his Redwood Valley home with a smoking pipe in one hand and a pistol in the other, accidentally shot himself while walking to Moutere.

Colliers business broker Paul Thomas said the historic two-storey pub, priced at $750,000, had been listed for a few weeks and already attracted four inquiries.

But its bars were unlikely to ever be the main future attraction because current liquor laws did not favour rural drinking establishments, he said.

However, the main road site was a perfect position for a cafe.

The sale deal included plans for a cafe renovation, including bringing the old building up to the required 67 per cent of current building code standards to meet earthquake regulations.

The hotel and adjoining modern three-bedroom house and large garage lie on 3000 square metres of land and cover a combined 4200sqm footprint. The old tavern has no accommodation - a function room is upstairs where rooms once were. The former tavern's interior has been stripped of plant and chattels, Thomas said.

"A cafe would work there well. It just would not work as a pub; those days are over."

Owner Chris White-Johnson said he and his wife had made the difficult decision to pass on the development opportunity to someone else after two years of thought.

They had architect's drawings done for the cafe revamp but the commitment of two other businesses, plus a health scare, drove their decision to sell the property they have owned since 1991.

Chris said the solid-rimu building still retained a lovely feel and featured original stained-glass windows. While the original hotel had never burnt down, a traditional fate of older hotels, it had been extensively remodelled over the years.

"It's a real catch for someone."

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