Top-flight cuisine set to take off

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:00 09/08/2012
Josh CombesIn business: Josh Combes, left, Rebecca Sampson and Andrew Curry are
PATRICK HAMILTON/FAIRFAX NZ

IN BUSINESS: Josh Combes, left, Rebecca Sampson and Andrew Curry are about to open a new restaurant and cafe, Hangar 58, in the Anchor Print building in Collingwood St.

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Three friends who are opening a major new restaurant and bar in Nelson hope to help the region's hospitality industry "take off".

Chef Josh Combes and former flight attendants Andrew Curry and Rebecca Sampson have taken over the lease of 58 Collingwood St, which is currently leased by Anchor Print.

The trio hope to open their aviation-themed restaurant, named Hangar 58, and employ 36 people, by the end of the year.

"Nelson is a town of aviation enthusiasts. We have a history and passion for aviation and what better way to showcase some history," Mr Combes said.

He has worked in Nelson for several years. Ms Sampson and Mr Curry, who are engaged, are moving back to Nelson from Christchurch.

Hangar 58 is one of a number of new hospitality ventures planned for the city.

Mick Mason, former owner of the Motueka River Lodge, plans to open a "small, casual, reasonably priced" Italian restaurant, named Eatalian Urban Ristorante and Bar, in Fashion Island next to Aki Sushi.

He chose an Italian restaurant "because Italian food is the mother of all cuisines".

"Everybody loves it, and Nelson deserves it."

The design of the restaurant was almost complete and building permission was being sought from the Nelson City Council.

He hoped it would open in early October.

Japanese chef Masao Kumagai and wife Yuko recently opened Masa's Restaurant and Sake Bar in the Hardy St building where Harry's Bar used to be located.

Mr Combes said the Hangar 58 trio were excited about their new venture and intended to fit into the hospitality market where others had left off.

The new restaurant would be open from 8am, offering cabinet food and al-la-carte dining during the day, and would shift to a more restaurant focus at night. It would have a liquor licence until 3am.

Mr Combes, who had been looking to open a business for several years, said emphasis would be placed on local ingredients and suppliers.

He was not worried about going into business in the current economic climate.

"[People] have that money to spend. I think they are a little bit more choosey on what they spend it on."

The business would have three bars: an inside bar, outside bar and an upstairs bar available for corporate functions.

The three were keen to support micro-breweries.

Some beer would be exclusive to the bar, while others would be old favourites.

The aviation theme would be done with quirky touches, rather than being overly themed or tacky, they said.

Mr Curry said the bar would have a quality fitout and IMB Construction would be the main contractor.

The trio had worked on the theme for their business, with help from Nelson design business the Sellers Room.

Work would start on the building this month.

They aimed to open by Christmas, because they already had interest in people keen to book Christmas and work functions, he said.

They had received positive feedback from people who knew of their plans and an online Hangar 58 Captain's Club already had about 500 members.

It's about trying to grow hospitality as a whole and working with other owners and operators to pull more people into town."

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Anchor Press managing director Hamish Neale said his family would still own 58 Collingwood St.

Mr Neale said the building, designed by Ian Jack, no longer suited the company and it was relocating 60 metres away to the New St entrance of what was the Linen Press. The company was installing new equipment there to shift more production towards high-quality professional colour digital printing, which would generate more business.

"There is a niche to be filled for high-quality digital print and we expect to be employing more people, as work currently being produced in Christchurch will now be able to be done locally and faster," Mr Neale said.

Anchor Print would stay at its New St premises for a couple of years, before looking for a new, more permanent location.

Work was increasingly coming in via email and the internet, so in a sense it did not matter where it relocated to, he said.

- The Nelson Mail

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