Leading eatery to close, staff may head for Mexico

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014
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JOHN ANTHONY
Waiau Estate Cafe and Restaurant owner, Moira Irving.

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A high-profile Taranaki eatery owned by a prominent regional leader is to close with the loss of up to 15 jobs.

Taranaki regional councillor and former National Party candidate Moira Irving is to shut the doors on her Waiau Country Estate restaurant.

Ms Irving confirmed yesterday the Onaero restaurant would close at the end of next month but the venue would still be available for functions.

A Waiau Country Estate staff member, who did not want to be named, said employees had been told they would be made redundant "a couple of weeks ago".

The staff member said about 15 employees would finish their jobs at the end of next month.

Ms Irving did not wish to talk to the Taranaki Daily News about why the restaurant was closing or the exact number of redundancies, saying it was a "private business matter".

The Taranaki regional councillor bought the business in 2011.

News of the closure comes hot on the heels of the announcement that a Mexican restaurant is to open in the former Andre's L'Escargot premises on New Plymouth's Brougham St.

Mexico's creative director, Mimi Gilmour, said the restaurant would provide full and part-time jobs for about 30 staff.

The New Zealand Restaurant Association's Taranaki president Joe Deegan said Waiau Estate had always faced the challenge of being located out of town and was often closed for private functions.

He said people were less likely to drive there from New Plymouth for a coffee or dinner if they were unsure whether the cafe or restaurant would be open to the public or not.

He said with Mexico opening in April there were plenty of jobs around.

"We are a small community and the chefs at Waiau Estate are good."

He said he would be very surprised if staff from Waiau Estate, who were of a high calibre, had trouble finding work.

Waiau Country Estate's head chef, Troydon Waters, was a member of the New Zealand Youth Culinary Team which in 2013 picked up two silver medals at the Welsh International Culinary Championships.

The venue was famously used by All Black Conrad Smith when he married Leanne Snowdon in October last year.

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