REBUILT FROM THE ASHES

In September 2016, only seven months after a fire ripped through O’Connell Street Bistro in Auckland, the iconic intimate back-street bistro with a big reputation for food and wine re-opened its doors. “It was important to get the restaurant back up and running as quickly as possible,” said owner and operator, Chris Upton.

For Upton, bringing together great ambience, wine and service is nothing short of a calling. “I think we all choose our path in life and mine is the hospitality industry,” he said.

O’Connell Street Bistro is a mecca for wine and food lovers, winning the coveted New York Wine Spectator Award for Excellence every year since 2000. One of the hardest blows in the aftermath of the fire was the loss of almost 400 bottles of wine and much of the Bistro’s unique and original artwork, which had hung on the walls since 1997.

“People came to us as part of their life,” Upton explained. “Even though it was tough, after the first three months we realised every cloud has a silver lining. When something like this happens, you take the opportunity to make a few changes. We’ve been here for 19 years now and it was a great chance to refresh everything.”

“We got pretty much all our new kitchen equipment from Silver Chef,” he said. “You are able to pay things off, return equipment if you wish but I’ve been in the industry for quite a while so I knew what we wanted, and went and ordered it. I would definitely recommend Silver Chef, especially to start-up businesses that need the flexibility to swap out equipment if needed.”

Almost a year after re-opening, Upton still feels excited about his bistro’s resurrection. “Everything is crisp and new. We’ve created a wonderful European-inspired dining-room, lowered the bar area so it’s more approachable, and built a beautiful open kitchen.”