More about Moore

23:11, Jul 13 2014
johnny moore
AT HOME: Johnny Moore in his inner city apartment.

Bar owner Johnny Moore has a weekly column in The Press and is a champion for small business in the city. Beck Eleven finds out more.

Johnny Moore shares plenty of personal information through his weekly columns in The Press, but there was a time he had a "real chip on his shoulder" if his name came anywhere near a newspaper.

"I was always known as 'the mayor's son' or 'the ex-mayor's son'," he says.

These days, it's the other way around. People see his father (former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore) as "Johnny's dad".

Moore has written more than 70 columns for the paper and says his two major themes would be family and being a voice for small, owner-operator types of businesses as they negotiate a return to the CBD.

"The amount of people that come up to me and say 'I've got a crazy family, too' amazes me. It was really unexpected. It's strange that I haven't offended anyone yet, either - well, except family."


Now that he is 34, family is a topic he doesn't mind discussing.

"I ended up going overseas because I was in my 20s and wanted to get away from being 'the mayor's son'. I was young and wanted to have the kind of fun someone that age does and that someone known as 'the mayor's son' shouldn't."

In London, he started running pubs and learning more about the trade. By the time he returned in 2004, Moore vowed he'd never work in a bar again. He graduated in journalism from the University of Canterbury, but at job interviews he was still "the mayor's son".

Steering clear of the media industry, Moore took a job working with the then- embryonic development in SOL Square. He was a jack-of-all-trades, setting up bars, marketing - and learning.

He and four friends decided to try their own bar, opening Cartel. The furniture was all secondhand and hot water bottles were offered to chilly customers. It was something quite different in the Christchurch bar landscape.

Cartel was a success and because they'd set it up for "next to nothing", they made back their investment in a month.

Three of the friends went on to form the Britomart Hospitality Group, responsible for highly-successful Auckland bars, and another went on to own Christchurch's Baretta.

"It's interesting to think all those places came from a crappy little bar with old furniture and hot water bottles," he says.

Moore's next venture was the fondly- remembered Goodbye Blue Monday venue in Poplar Lane - until the quake put paid to that.

He finds it strange now, thinking his temporary post-quake bar, Smash Palace, has existed longer than any of his other places. Setting up Smash Palace was tough. The post-quake future was uncertain and there was an "epic battle" with the Christchurch City Council over consent. At one point, the stress hit him so terribly that he went to the doctor believing he was having a heart attack.

These days, Moore sports a bushy beard, making him look quite different to his smooth-shaven byline photograph.

His current project is a restaurant/bar called Brick Farm and, all going to plan, it will open on the site of the former Poplar Lane area next week.

It's a family business with three couples as shareholders: His parents, his sister and brother-in-law, and Moore and his wife, Juliet.

Brick Farm is set over three floors and neighbouring vacant lots will be used to grow the majority of produce.

His mother, Pam Sharpe, has retired from nursing to be Brick Farm's head gardener. When a developer starts building on those sections, the vege plot will have to go, but Moore is accustomed to the changing face of the inner city.

He and Juliet live in an inner city building on St Asaph St. She works at Cera and one suspect's that might create a few arguments. He says he might "have a rant about the organisation now and then. But every single person I've met who works there, we get on great guns."

Both Moore and his wife grew up in Christchurch, but they had never met until they were introduced by a mutual friend who had long said the pair were well- suited. Eventually that friend threw a party and made sure they were both invited.

"It felt a bit forced but it gave us something to talk about and, well, we fell in love. I'm scruffy, she's tidy, but we have fundamentally the same take on life."

The Press