Palmerston North bar and brewery in for the win at hospitality awards
A Palmerston North craft beer bar and brewery is the only finalist for a Hospitality New Zealand award in the region.
Brew Union owners Murray Cleghorn and Jules Grace are celebrating making the finals in the best newcomer in the food and beverage section of the 2017 awards, announced on Monday.
New Zealand craft beer and woodfired pizza proved successful in bringing in punters since the bar opened in March, but Cleghorn said he was still surprised the bar had made the finals.
The idea of creating a craft beer bar and brewery in Palmerston North had been bubbling away for years, but it wasn't until late summer that their dream became a reality.
It took longer and cost far more than expected, but the hard work to get the brewery bar up and running was paying off, Cleghorn said.
Brewing on site and offering a variety of independently brewed beers, sourced mainly from nearby regions, was a point of difference for the city.
Originally, the pair wanted to open a small bar with just enough room for guests to taste a beer before filling up a bottle or two to take home. But, they saw a gap in Palmerston North's hospitality market for a larger venue.
Now, 30 staff help fill dozens of chairs and hundreds of pints in the space that used to house a music store and a sports shop.
The focus was on providing an enjoyable experience in a safe environment without intoxicated patrons or extremely late nights, Cleghorn said.
The bar closed about 11pm and there were no shots served to keep heavy drinking to a minimum, he said.
"Palmerston North responded really positively."
Because Brew Union was still so new, Cleghorn included upcoming projects on the entry form for the awards as he wanted to illustrate what they are trying to achieve.
It was not just about providing a good service inhouse, it was also about getting involved in the community, Cleghorn said.
With permission from the Palmerston North City Council, they hope to start a clean up project at Kawau stream.
Cleghorn hoped to get customers and staff to remove rubbish from the stream and re-plant greenery. In return, he would offer refreshments.
Because brewing used so much water, this was a way to give back to the environment, Cleghorn said.
The environmentally conscious owners are also setting up a system to recycle all packaging and to compost food scraps.
Emerson's taproom and restaurant in Dunedin and the Little High Eatery in Christchurch are also finalists for best newcomer. The winner will be announced in October.