Restaurant to open in old building

RESTORED TO GLORY: Jacqui Lee, owner of Ironside House, proudly shows that restoration on the heritage building is complete.
RESTORED TO GLORY: Jacqui Lee, owner of Ironside House, proudly shows that restoration on the heritage building is complete.

High-profile chef Jonny Schwass's latest culinary venture in Christchurch will offer a slice of history too.

His new restaurant, Harlequin Public House, will soon open in Ironside House, a more than century-old building on the corner of Salisbury and Montreal streets.

The building's owners restored it to its former glory despite it being severely damaged in the February 2011 earthquake and being red-stickered.

READY TO SIZZLE: Jonny Schwass in his premises in Ironside House.
READY TO SIZZLE: Jonny Schwass in his premises in Ironside House.

Co-owner Jacqui Lee said that when she saw the building after the devastating quake she thought, "How the hell are we going to fix this?"

But she took the approach of "where there is a will there is a way".

Saving the building, built in 1899, did not come cheap.

The salvage project, which involved lifting and moving the house on to the nearby car park so workers could put down deep-pile foundations, "conservatively" cost about $2.5 million, she said.

The bill was covered through a combination of insurance, a Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Building Trust grant and a bank loan. Lee hoped a council grant would be confirmed.

Schwass said they hoped to open after July 20.

"We're pretty lucky to be the custodians of such a beautiful building. They're definitely not making them like that any more."

He said the restaurant and bar would be europena 1920s-style, with a few "familiar faces" from his now-demolished Ferry Rd Restaurant Schwass.

Ironside House was once home to a surgery and later a lecture hall for the Christchurch Teachers' College.

The Press