Diggers Bar under new ownership

Diggers Bar: Despite a narrow frontage, it can hold 180 people.
Diggers Bar: Despite a narrow frontage, it can hold 180 people.

A 110-year-old building in the heart of Hamilton's hospitality precinct has changed hands.

Heritage-protected site Diggers Bar, at 17 Hood St, was sold by Colliers Hamilton this month following owner-operator Craig Williamson's retirement after 14 years.

The property, which has a capital value of $770,000 according to Hamilton City Council's rating valuation records, has been bought by local men Mark Flyger, Duncan Otto and Dave Rodger.

Flyger and Otto already have experience in the hospitality industry as the names behind Biddy Mulligan's Irish Pub on Victoria St.

They plan to expand on Diggers' live music scene, which has already seen Kiwi darlings The Black Seeds and The Datsuns play at the spot.

The building is listed as a category 2 heritage building with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Diggers was purpose-built in 1903 to house the Waikato District Hospital and Charitable Aid Board which developed health services in the region.

The false-fronted, single-storey brick and concrete building was designed by Auckland architect Thomas Mahoney and built by John P Murray on land that was part of Hamilton's original military settlement. It was renovated after a fire broke out in 1911 and was later used as retailing space.

In 1994 the building was renovated yet again. The kauri floors were polished, the pressed metal ceilings were reinstated and Diggers Bar opened for business.

Vendor Williamson invested into updating the building, with new bathrooms and kitchen fitted out and timber detailing and historic accents completed.

The venue can accommodate up to 180 people across the main bar, outdoor seating areas and two function rooms.

Flyger said the new owners plan to keep the bar the same.

"The building is well laid out and the previous owners spent a lot of money fitting it out.

"It's a credit to them, and we just want to build on their success. We want it to be like the TV show Cheers and be the bar where everyone knows your name."