Festive cheer for restaurants, bars

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 13:22 21/12/2012

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Pub crawls, traditional Christmas meals and boat charters are a popular choice for end-of-year work functions this year.

But not all Marlborough bars and restaurants are benefiting from the seasonal celebrations.

The River Queen owner Peter Makin said he has noticed an increased number of businesses keen to do something special this year with a river cruise and meal.

Snapping the starboard motor on November 17 was not as disastrous as expected, and added a new dimension of dockside functions to its portfolio, he said.

"It's been a good year for us, we've hosted quite a number of new groups and wineries wanting to do something a bit different this year."

Chequers Cafe and Winebar in Blenheim and the Cork and Keg in Renwick have noticed a downturn in Christmas functions this year.

Chequers owner Carolyn Coles said while trade was still steady, they had hosted fewer of the larger group functions. "Businesses are still struggling and are looking at cheaper options like platters and drinks rather than sit-down meals," she said.

"And of course people want to do something different from year to year, so that could explain why we aren't as busy."

Cork and Keg owner Diane Collins said while business increased with the temperature, they had not hosted as many work functions this year.

More popular were pub crawls, where groups chartered a bus and visited a series of mystery bars and restaurants throughout the night, she said.

Dolce Cafe and Bar owner Sue McElhinney said trade was well up on last year. "Compared to this time last year, functions have doubled," she said. "We've been doing more traditional three-course set menus with a Christmas ham this year; people seem to be enjoying that."

Marlborough Travel's Scott MacKenzie said the number of lunch and dinner cruises onboard the Odyssea in the Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds were up compared to the last two years.

While not at the same levels as four years ago, it was pleasing to see the uptake in business, he said.

Scotch Bar owner Hamish Thomas said a wide range of industries had been letting their hair down in the lead-up to Christmas.

Most prominent had been the wine industry and business services such as lawyers and accountants, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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