Hospitality operators in Central Christchurch fear as though they may be heading into a harsh winter trading season. Years on from the earthquakes there are more restaurants and bars in the city than customers, or so it seems.
For many places, the game is already up. Over the last few months, closures have been popping up all around the city including Bootleg BBQ Kitchen, Bamboozle Restaurant, Orleans and the Anchorage Café. For those left in the industry, there are warning signs that are becoming harder and harder to ignore. Max Bremner, a hospitality investor, said that he was not happy with the way things are trending. “That’s never happened before. Normally [restaurants and bars] shut the doors in September or October when winter comes hard, and they can’t pay their bills. But never at this time of year… that is a terrible sign.”
Part of the problem lies in the high cost of renting in the city, as well as the daunting list of competition. On top of this, there is a disparity between the population of the central city and the restaurant and café offerings. Ian Riach, Coffee Worx owner, said, “Good people are setting up businesses, and they’re aiming at tourists and residents. But most of the people there are construction workers, so they’re looking for a different offer.”
Facing up to winter may be a challenge for many of the owners and operators of hospitality businesses. However, there is hope on the horizon with the completion of the Christchurch convention centre, and an extensive advertising scheme said to be rolling out during the colder months.