540 restaurants now open in Chch
Restaurants, bars and cafes in Christchurch are slowly clawing their way back to pre-earthquake levels.
More than 543 cafes, restaurants and bars are now open in the city - half of what was open before the quakes.
Research by University of Canterbury senior marketing lecturer Sussie Morrish found 22 per cent of the restaurants were in the central city, while 24 per cent were in the western suburbs, especially Riccarton and surrounding areas.
About 10 per cent of restaurants were in the eastern suburbs, mostly in Shirley, Linwood, Brighton and Woolston.
Morrish said Christchurch outlets were doing a roaring trade in the days heading towards the holiday period.
''We've heard of people trying to book tables for a meal out and restaurants are virtually fully booked. It's great news for operators, who have had a couple of tough years following the earthquakes.''
Quake-damaged restaurants have been racing to return to the central city in time for the busy summer season.
The Dux Dine has opened in Riccarton Rd, Cafe Valentino has reopened in St Asaph St, Strawberry Fare is doing a booming trade at the Carlton Mill corner, Pedro's is operating from a mobile cart, and Costas Taverna, the Greek restaurant formerly in Victoria St, is back at a new premises in Cranford St.
Dux Dine owner Richard Sinke said it had been ''fantastic getting back into business''.
''It's been going great; we've been really busy. I think people are appreciating having something new,'' he said.
Cafe Valentino owner Michael Turner said the reaction from the people of Christchurch had been ''humbling''.
''There have been some emotional scenes of people who are so happy to have us back open. I've had my hand shaken more times in the last few weeks than I have in the 20 years I've had Cafe Valentino.''
The restaurant had been full every night, Turner said. ''I wish we could fit more people in.''
Meanwhile, new bars are filling the gap left by the closing of the central city.
Pop-up bars Cargo, Revival, the Town Ball and Smash Palace have proved popular, as have new haunts Volstead Trading Company, The Monday Room, The Pedal Pusher and The Darkroom, while The Twisted Hop is brewing from Woolston.
While all Christchurch businesses had suffered a tough two years, Morrish said, 2013 would be an exciting time for the eateries and bars as the city got on with the rebuild.
''More planning will be needed next year to cater for the anticipated influx of workers and more visitors as the rebuild really kicks off. We must use the Christmas break to recharge and then plan strategically for the future.''
Sinke was also feeling positive about the new year.
''By all accounts next year is when the rebuild is really going to start. I think it's going to be a positive time for all Canterbury businesses, us included,'' he said.