Bars, eateries near pre-quake levels

GEORGINA STYLIANOU AND ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2013
Baretta Bar
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

ANOTHER ROUND: Reuben Prowley busy behind the bar at Baretta Bar and Restaurant on St Asaph St.

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Christchurch is not quite spoilt for choice, but new research shows the city's hospitality recovery is 80 per cent of the way there.

The "creative genius" of entrepreneurs in the city had resulted in more than 220 bars, cafes and restaurants opening in Christchurch in the past 18 months, University of Canterbury researcher Sussie Morrish says.

Christchurch now has 794 hospitality outlets, compared with 566 in January last year.

"It is great to see the hospitality industry getting back on its feet," Morrish said.

"It is no longer difficult to get a booking these days, so diners are now able to choose from a number of restaurants."

She said the recent growth meant the hospitality industry was now back to about 80 per cent of pre-earthquake levels.

"Christchurch is seriously progressing forward now ... It is a very dynamic process."

More than 350 outlets were still closed and might not reopen, she said.

Morrish said the recovery was being reflected in the job market, and 5 per cent of the region's 2500 advertised jobs were for the hospitality and tourism industries.

The city's booming nightlife was a "promising sign", Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said.

"This growth will greatly assist in bringing young people back to Christchurch for ongoing education, and also tourism, as these sectors have been affected most since the earthquakes," he said.

Zak Cassels, co-owner of Cassels & Sons, said things were looking "very positive".

Cassels' newest venture, Gustav's Kitchen and Wine Bar, was going well, and demand for new watering holes and eateries was "really strong".

However, some bar owners believe the hospitality industry's upsurge in the city will be undone if a 1am closing time is introduced.

Baretta director Gregor Ferguson said his St Asaph St bar and restaurant was thriving, but the Christchurch City Council's draft local alcohol policy could put a stop to that.

"We're over the moon with the way it's [the business] been received. We've obviously hit the right demographic with our target," he said.

His submission to the council would be heard today in a bid to stop the policy that would lose him "30 per cent of our turnover".

"This sort of thing impacts on the future of Christchurch - hospitality and the future of the city in general," he said.

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