Fergburger offers to alleviate congestion

Rhoniesha Seubert, visiting from the United States, munches into a world-famous Fergburger.
Rhoniesha Seubert, visiting from the United States, munches into a world-famous Fergburger.

Broadcaster CNN called it the best burger on the planet and it's a tourist attraction in its own right.

The massively popular Shotover St burger joint and bakery - which has just shy of 40,000 Facebook "likes" - has offered $100,000 to the Queenstown District Lakes Council to help alleviate congestion outside the premises.

The burger bar and next-door Fergbaker attract throngs of customers, who often congregate in Shotover St and block the footpath.

In its proposal, the company - which started as a hole-in-the-wall operation in Cow Lane more than a decade ago - proposed widening the footpath and improving the precinct with seating and landscaping.

Many people placed Ferg on their list of top activities during a visit to New Zealand, the company said.

"From its humble beginnings ... the presence and profile of Fergburger has become intertwined with Queenstown. Its main street location has become a key attraction in the CBD for visitors of all ages and nationalities."

Council chief engineer Ulrich Glasner's report says the footpath is often blocked by customers, frustrating locals and other visitors.

At peak times, people sit in the gutters or spill into the areas between parked cars, he says.

"Fergburger ... is well aware of the situation and has implemented remedies to address it such as hiring extra staff to organise queues, hiring security staff and promoting website orders."

The report says Ferg - owned by Anthony Smith - is committed to the location and has plans for a permanent precinct over four buildings.

A third store beside Fergbaker, "Mrs Ferg", is in development.

Glasner says the council should not fund any of the proposed works but the offer of up to $100,000 is probably sufficient. Cost estimates need to be provided to council while 25 nearby businesses and landlords approved the plan.

The NZ Transport Agency is comfortable with the idea and Ferg also indicated the company was prepared to pay for maintenance, his report says.

The cost of widening the footpath and drainage works is about $50,000, with another $50,000 for landscaping and seating.

Councillors will consider the report and its recommendation to accept the proposal at a meeting tomorrow.

The Southland Times