The Christchurch hospitality scene has been marked with closures and businesses being put into liquidation, but one new establishment is hoping that the purchase of a heritage building will help them survive.

Anup and Sadhana Nathu will open The Permit Room next month, a colonial-India themed restaurant and bar which will serve Southern Indian food. It will be housed in Isaac House opposite Victoria Square. The building was built in the 1920s and was once the home of the National Bank but has been empty since the earthquakes.

"Hospitality is a package,” Nathu said. “Food is only a small part of it these days. It's the ambience, what we're offering, the service – it's the whole experience. The days of vinyl table tops have gone."

Isaac House was originally slated for demolition to make way for a new convention centre but the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust managed to save the building and sell it to Berkshire Properties in 2016. Nathu believed that owning the building would help in times of financial difficulty, and they are also looking for tenants of the top floor to provide extra income.

The pair are experienced in hospitality, having founded the Tandoori Palace brand in 1990. There are now two outlets, one in Ilam and one in Queenstown, and also manufacture sauces. The pair opened Mumbaiwala in 2016, which serves Indian-style street food opposite the Ibis Hotel.