Sacked after one day: Cafe worker Helen Mawhinney’s total payout now $12,000 after legal fees award

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A Wellington cafe worker awarded $9000 after being wrongly sacked after one day’s work has now pocketed a side order of legal fees.

Helen Mawhinney’s legal win has now been topped up from $9000 to $12,080 after her former employer was told to pay some of her legal expenses.

In February she won her case at the Employment Relations Authority against Sfizio Ltd, over one day’s work in its Wadestown Kitchen cafe which later turned sour when she was told it was an unpaid trial.

Authority member Michele Ryan found Mawhinney had in fact been hired. She ordered Sfizio to pay Mawhinney just over $9000 – $7000 in compensation, $119.07 for work done on August 4, 2017, and $1890 for four weeks’ notice.

Now in a follow-up order, Ryan has instructed the company to pay Mawhinney $3000 as a contribution towards her costs in bringing the claim to the ERA, plus reimbursement of the filing fee, $71.56.

Mawhinney had met Sfizio directors Kathy Parfitt and Curtis Gregorash after replying to an ad for an experienced barista. It was agreed Mawhinney would attend at the Wadestown Kitchen the next day.

She told the authority she had worked a full shift from 8am to 4pm, doing a range of tasks.

After the cafe closed for the day, she asked Parfitt should she provide her bank details for payment. Parfitt replied: “Oh, did Curtis not tell you? This was an unpaid trial.”

Mawhinney explained to Parfitt she had incurred childcare and travel costs.

Hours later Parfitt texted Mawhinney to apologise for “confusion” about the day’s unpaid trial, and offering a job at Wadestown.

Four days later, Mawhinney texted back to decline the job and demand payment, advising that if not paid by week’s end she would pursue mediation.

Gregorash replied, stating Sfizio didn’t pay for trial days and that trialists were unproductive and could leave at will.

“It is not a day of work,” he wrote, adding that the job offer was withdrawn.

To the authority, he said Sfizio never offered employment before a person did a competency assessment. But he accepted the arrangements for Mawhinney’s attendance at the cafe hadn’t been recorded in writing.

Mawhinney, by contrast, told the authority that at her interview, Parfitt said she was “exactly what we are looking for” and they could give her 30 hours a week.

She said Parfitt told her “to come in tomorrow and work a full shift” and that she believed this meant she had secured the job.

Ryan said she preferred Mawhinney’s evidence and was not satisfied matters surrounding the August 4 shift were conveyed to Mawhinney by Sfizio.

Mawhinney had crossed the line between assessment and work. The work she performed had produced an economic benefit for Sfizio.

Click here to view original article from NZ Herald

Make sure you’re up to date with employment law, as a member you have access to a 24/7 legal helpline and up to date employment contracts and resources.

Go to resources

Helpline contact: 0800 737 827

Lewisham Awards Finalists Announced

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2019 Lewisham Awards Finalists Announced In The Search For The Pinnacle Of Auckland’s Hospitality Scene

There is strong competition in the race for accolades in this year’s Lewisham Awards. Winners receive recognition as one of the top in Auckland hospitality.

The Lewisham Awards recognise each part of the industry that contributes to Auckland’s vibrant and diverse dining and entertainment scene. From restaurant owners to chefs, waiters, baristas, suppliers and establishments.
This year marks the 17th year that the Lewisham Awards will celebrate excellence in Auckland hospitality.

The number of nominations this year has set records, creating an exciting contest to find the winners. This year’s finalists include long established venues and personnel, joined in the top four with amazing new establishments and hospitality stars. This identifies the outstanding standard set by those at the top in the industry.

Finalist voting runs from Tuesday 8th May until Tuesday 22nd May. The votes are then counted to find those selected as the top. This will ensure that Auckland’s hospitality stars will be ready to hit the red carpet on 3rd June. The industry gathers to support finalists and celebrate winners in true hospitality style at the Pacific Nights themed Awards night.

The 2019 Lewisham Awards finalists are:

Outstanding Waiter sponsored by Crombie Lockwood
Des Dillon – Soul Bar & Bistro
Melodee Pearce – Prego
Eugene Kliushneu – Harbourside & Bistro
Ben Coates – Woodpecker Hill

Outstanding Maitre’ d sponsored by antipodes water company
Trevor Bancroft – Botswana Butchery
Lindsay Swannack – Prego
Leigh Warn – THe Blue Breeze Inn
James Kelly – Euro Bar & Restaurant

Outstanding Bartender sponsored by Winterhalter NZ
Bryan De-Fenyi Pollet – Deadshot
Katie Cramphorn – Coley & Punch
Asa Campbell – My Bar
Barney Toy – Mea Culpa

Outstanding Sales Representative sponsored by Restaurant Association of NZ
Justin Thompson – Bidfood
Crystal McConchie – Southern Hospitality
Jamie Dickens – Tickety Boo
Angie Atkinson – Prophets Rock

Outstanding Wine List sponsored by EuroVintage
Soul Bar & Bistro
O’Connell St Bistro
Botswana Butchery
Peach Pit

Outstanding Supplier sponsored by Hospitality New Zealand
Southern Hospitality
Red + White Cellar

Outstanding Wine Service Professional sponsored by Negociants New Zealand
Edmundo Farrera – La Fuente
Benji Smith – O’Connell St Bistro
Hiro Kawahara – Sid at The French Cafe
Piers Haszard – Harbourside Bar & Bistro

Outstanding Local sponsored by Southern Hospitality
The Tinted Rose
My Bar
The Bramble

Outstanding Caterer sponsored by Hellers New Zealand
Mint Kitchen
On Board Kitchen
Little Wolf

Outstanding Cheap Eats sponsored by CLYTH MACLEOD
The White Lady
Burger Boy
Dixie Barbecue
Judge Bao

Outstanding Bar sponsored by Hancocks Wine, Spirit & Beer Merchants
Parasol & Swing
Hoppers Garden Bar
Mea Culpa

Outstanding Barista sponsored by Meadow Fresh
Jasmine McDermott – Burger Boy
Juno Jung – Atomic Kingsland
Abel Mok – Espresso Workshop
Josh Gair – Fitzroy Lounge Bar

Outstanding Cafe sponsored by Bidfood   
Ozone Coffee Roasters

Outstanding New Venue sponsored by Asahi Beverages
La Fuente
Hello Beasty
Saint Alice

Outstanding Establishment sponsored by OneMusic
Soul Bar & Bistro

Outstanding Producer sponsored by the recruitment network
The Lucky Taco
Curious Croppers
A Lady Butcher
Clevedon Buffalo Co

Outstanding Chef sponsored by Loaf
Leslie Hottiaux – Apero
Gareth Stewart – The Nourish Group
Nick Honeyman – Paris Butter
Sid Sahrawat – Sidart|Cassia|Sid at The French Cafe

Outstanding Restaurateur sponsored by Pernod Ricard New Zealand
Michael Dearth – Baduzzi|The Grove
Mandy Lusk – Vivace
Jeremy Turner – Cibo
Nicola Richards – Monsoon Poon

Outstanding Hospitality Personality sponsored by Moët Hennessy New Zealand
Mark Wallbank – The Blue Breeze Inn |Woodpecker Hill |Chop Chop | GoGo Daddy Cantina
Sarah Frizzell – The Lucky Taco
Phil Mead – The Tinted Rose
Ismo Koski – Apero

Tickets are on sale now for the awards evening at The Pullman Hotel  on Sunday 2nd June 2019. For more information or to purchase tickets go to keep an eye on the Lewisham Awards website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter page for event updates.
Webiste –
Facebook – LewishamFoundation
Instagram – lewishamawards

Member Spotlight: Sue, Owner of The Great Catering Company

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Sue, a renowned chef, set up The Great Catering Company in 1995. Trained at the Savoy Hotel in London, she saw a need to cater to the food-driven dreams of a discerning market. Sue’s stellar kitchen talents have brought tremendous success. Her company is the leader in the private and corporate catering world.

Here’s 10 questions with Sue Fleischl, for this Member Spotlight.


What made you decide to go into the industry / what gave you your first start in hospitality?

I have always loved cooking. My mother died at an early age and my father (a jewish refugee from Vienna) loved European food. As children growing up, we all had to help out in the kitchen and the garden. Preparing and cooking food is what we all had to do.

This may sound totally corny, but when I was 11, I won the “cook of the year” award at Napier Intermediate school. From that day, I decided I wanted to be a chef.

My father wrote to all the big Hotels in Europe and the only hotel that responded was The Savoy. When I was 17 years old, straight after 7th form, I was on a plane to London where I worked my way around every partie in the kitchen. This set me up with a glowing reference and my career as a chef.

What inspires you?

With food, I get most of my inspiration from visual stimulation. Going to local markets and looking at pictures.

With business, I get inspired by talking to other people in the industry as well as talking to my team on how we can improve and do things more efficiently and better than last time. I get a lot of inspiration from attending the conferences in the USA, they do everything on such a grand scale with grand budgets to match!

What do you love about the hospitality industry?

We are in the industry of making people happy. It is a feel good industry. Everything from a wedding, a 50th birthday dinner, a product launch or a funeral is a celebration of some thing or someone. We are here to make someone’s day. What’s not to love about that?

What are your key challenges?

Our key challenges are people related. Finding committed staff is not easy. In Europe they see hospitality as a career, to many in New Zealand, it is “only a job”.

What is the secret to your success?

Don’t give up, believe in yourself and aim high.

What is the best piece of advice you have received to date in your hospitality career?

One day years ago, when everything seemed to be too hard (yes we all have these days), a wise chef said to me “Stop! Take a deep breath, and start at the beginning”

What one piece of advice would you give to people starting out in the industry?

Find someone you admire in the industry and ask if you can have a coffee with them. Ask them about their journey, what they have learnt and what advice they can give you. Everyone will have a different story. I asked a woman I admire in business (she wasn’t in hospitality) to have coffee with me and she introduced me to so many people who I then did business with as well, she also helped me market my business. It was GOLD.

What do you think makes NZ Hospitality unique?

Our friendliness.

Which restaurants are on your dining bucket list?

I definitely have to go back to Pasture again. The best dining experience in New Zealand.

What do you do to relax?

Every morning I walk Takapuna beach or take the paddle board out. I love the sea.

During the weekends, its gardening that calms me down.

Check out The Great Catering Company’s website



NRA report examines millennial dining habits

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Create an experience at your foodservice establishment to attract millennial diners, new research from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) suggests.

In its 2019 State of the Restaurant Industry report, the NRA finds that customers ages 21-38 would like restaurants to provide technology that improves the dining experience, offer more environmentally sustainable items, and create easier opportunities to order takeout and delivery.

“Demographics are destiny in the restaurant industry,” says Hudson Riehle, the National Restaurant Association’s senior vice president of research.

“Understanding and meeting the dining demands of millennials is not only critical to the industry’s success, but also their loyalty to its restaurant brands.”

Key findings from the report:

  • 51 percent of millennials would like to be able to choose their own tables from a seating chart located on the restaurant’s website during the reservation process.
  • Over 60 percent of millennial diners would like restaurants to use technology to make ordering and payment easier, as well as make takeout and delivery more convenient.
  • 56 percent of millennials placed a delivery or takeout order using a restaurant app or website in the past year, and are more likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to order meals using self-service kiosks at quickservice or coffee shop restaurants.
  • 58 percent are more likely to choose one restaurant over another based on its ability to provide sustainably grown, raised, and manufactured food.

Millennials are willing to pay more to get more when it comes to the dining experience. By improving that experience, operators can set themselves up for success in the coming years.

Click here for original article by Brian Amick


Check out the webinar on progressive dining and sustainability.

Article: Technology driven restaurants and plant-based menus top list of NZ dining trends

Sid at The French Café Christchurch charity lunch raises more than $122,000

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The Christchurch Charity fundraising lunch at Auckland fine dining institution Sid at The French Café has raised more than $122,000 for the victims of the March 15 terror attack.

The event held yesterday, Sunday 28 April, saw 140 guests enjoy a six-course lunch with canapés, served by the teams from Sidart, Cassia and Sid at The French Café.

All food, beverages, products and services including live and silent auction items were donated with all proceeds going via DineAid to Victim Support, to help the families affected by the attack.

The event was hosted by Sid and Chand Sahrawat, MC’d by Kerre McIvor and the live auction conducted by Nigel Shanks.

Areeb Taimoori, owner of popular Auckland eatery 1947 shared a moving account with guests of how the events had impacted him, his family and the lives of those who lost loves ones.

Sid and Chand Sahrawat say their original target was to raise $100,000 and that they were overwhelmed with the support on the day.

“We felt so much love in the room yesterday. We really wanted to do something to show how much we care, even in a small way to show those whose lives will be impacted for years to come that we are united in their grief.

“Areeb’s account of where he was when he heard the news of the attack – and how he lost loved ones really reinforced to all of us how many people have been touched by this and we are truly humbled by all of the support we’ve had from the wider hospitality community to rally around this event.”

The event final tally was $122,245 which will be distributed by DineAid who has also been

collecting in over 120 restaurants around the country for Christchurch Victim Support.

Queenstown Hospitality Awards acknowledge excellence in the region!

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Outstanding Tanoshi is the top of the town

The Queenstown hospitality industry acknowledged the outstanding abilities of its own with the announcement of the winners at an awards ceremony held last night (Sunday 28th April).

Teppan and sake bar Tanoshi took out two of the top accolades winning outstanding city centre bar and the people’s choice award for outstanding establishment.

The awards recognise the outstanding hospitality professionals, all of whom are making a positive impact on the local café and dining scene. The Restaurant Association of New Zealand are proud to organise and foster these Awards with the main purpose being to unite, grow and promote the Queenstown hospitality industry.

Nestled on the hill less overlooking the bay and the Remarkables, Bespoke Kitchen took out the award for best local café with a carefully crafted menu that is focused on organic and raw ingredients.

Bar accolades went to rooftop bar The Sundeck who went home with awards for outstanding bar as well as best bartender and supreme crewmember awards for William Prior.

Known for its cocktails, tapas menu and live music with a view, Sundeck was recognised for providing exceptional service and Mediterranean hospitality with stunning views.

Recognition for the city’s top and emerging chefs went to John Pickens, Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan and Karan Dhillon of Slow Cuts respectively.

Creative new fitouts have also been a key feature of a new breed of hospitality establishments in the city, with White and Wongs awarded for its outstanding ambience and design.

Dedication to exceptional service was also recognised with La Rumbla taking out best front of house team and Elisa Bellei of Botswana Butchery receiving the best waiter accolade.

Marisa Bidois, CEO Restaurant Association of New Zealand says “Queenstown is now a force to be reckoned with when it comes to dining out offering exceptional experiences in some of the world’s most stunning settings.

“As an industry it’s so important that we take time out to celebrate our success and acknowledge our achievements. We believe it’s important to shine a light on our industry and make sure we are recognised for the contribution we make to our community and economy.

With all categories keenly contested, this year’s winners truly exemplify what it means to be at the top of their respective categories.”

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held at the Skyline in Queenstown on April 28th 2019.

For more information regarding the awards please visit, Facebook @qthospitalityawards or Instagram @queenstownawards


2019 Queenstown Hospitality Awards Winners

Meadow FreshOutstanding Barista – Madeleine Strӧmbäck, Joes Garage

Hellers Outstanding Café – Bespoke Kitchen

Cardrona Distillery Outstanding Bartender – William Prior, The Sundeck

Asahi Outstanding Bar – The Sundeck

Kono Wines Outstanding Waiter – Elisa Bellei, Botswana Butchery

Office Max Outstanding Front of House Team – La Rumbla

Bidfood Queenstown & Silere Merino Lamb Emerging Chef – Karan Dhillon, Slow Cuts

Southern Hospitality Outstanding Chef – John Pickens, Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan Negociants

Emerging Wine Service Professional – Anna Krykunivsky, The Grille by Eichardt’s

Nova Energy Outstanding Winery Restaurant – Amisfield Bistro

OneMusic Outstanding Ambience & Design – White + Wong’s Queenstown

Crombie Lockwood Outstanding Central City Establishment – Tanoshi Queenstown

Eftpos NZ Outstanding Restaurant – Botswana Butchery

Skyline Queenstown Outstanding Sales Rep – Karen Bisacre, Pernod Ricard

McCarthy Outstanding Beverage Supplier – Cardrona Distillery

NZI Outstanding Supplier – Bidfood Queenstown

First Table People’s Choice Outstanding Establishment – Tanoshi Queenstown

Trents Wholesale Supreme Crew Member – William Prior, The Sundeck

Trents Wholesale Supreme Emerging Talent – Karan Dhillon, Slow Cuts

Trents Wholesale Supreme Establishment – Amisfield Bistro

Trents Wholesale Supreme Supplier – Cardrona Distillery

Submission to the Ministry of Education: Consultation on Vocational Education Reform

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Our Association is proud to be the representative body for 2,300 hospitality businesses in New Zealand, employing over 30,000 people. Overall we welcome the Government’s goal to deliver an education system that is sustainable and fit for the future of work, delivering what learners, employers and communities need.

We can see merit in many of the changes being proposed, particularly with regard to ensuring employers have faith in the education system’s ability to deliver the skills industries need. However, we harbour considerable concern about the scale of changes and the interim impact of these changes, when the need to grow the number of skilled workers in hospitality is critical.

Consultation with our members has emphasised their preference is to employ New Zealanders and supplement with migrant workers when there are no suitable New Zealanders available. However, in practice the pipelines are currently not straightforward.

Our members have also told us there is a breakdown in adequate industry training which in many cases fails to produce individuals ready to step into the workforce. We encourage the Government to press on with significant increases in employer-led learning. It makes sense that if current training programmes continue to produce non-work ready candidates, that training designed with employers to fit their requirements, will go a long way in bridging the gap.

The Association acknowledges the current model does not encourage collaboration of Institute of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). Our industry ITO, ServiceIQ, is good at balancing workplace training that places equal importance on the learner and the business owner, however need to be given the tools to respond more quickly to industry needs.

Service IQ has consistent engagement with industry, with room to improve engagement processes in respect of small to medium enterprises. Our members maintain that while interactions are generally positive, more needs to be done to ensure future training reflects the needs of employers.

“We are extremely proactive in working with education providers in an attempt to find good people. However this has become increasingly difficult over recent years.”
Association Member 3, Survey March 2019

We encourage the Government to look at the reality of the hospitality industry, not only in a local context but also internationally. As demonstrated by global shortages of key talent in hospitality, the challenges being faced here in New Zealand are not unique.

We know changes to training models will not be a silver bullet, especially given the low unemployment rates, but they are a positive start.



La Vista restaurant’s Shchetkova family allowed to stay after Minister Kris Faafoi’s intervention

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A Ukrainian family who own a popular Auckland restaurant have received a reprieve from the threat of deportation after the intervention of Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.

Nataliya Shchetkova, her husband Alex Derecha and their five children are in New Zealand on a entrepreneur visa which runs out on July 1.

The couple, who run La Vista restaurant in St Heliers, have been living on a knife edge after exhausting almost all their options in a bid to stay in New Zealand, which has been their home since 2013.

They renewed their visa twice, the maximum number of times it can be renewed, and applied for residency but it was declined because Immigration NZ said their business did not add significant value to the country.

An appeal also failed.

The family’s last option was to write to Faafoi. A petition signed by 15,000 people also urged Faafoi to intervene and a rally was held for the family.

Shchetkova also appeared before a parliamentary committee to plead their case.

La Vista had a turnover of $1.6 million in the last financial year and employs 26 staff, 17 of them fulltime.

Act leader David Seymour, who has been supporting the family, said today that Faafoi had written to the family to tell them they were allowed to stay for another 12 months which would allow them to apply for residency again.

Shchetkova confirmed the family would reapply for permanent residency.

“I can’t say it’s a 100 per cent victory but if you compare refusal to a 12-month work visa it is a win,” Shchetkova said.

“We want to stay, we’re happy to be here and we want to keep doing what we’re doing now.”

Shchetkova said she and her husband would not have time to celebrate the good news but her young twins had planned to have a picnic on the beach to mark the occasion.

“We are so happy. My children are going to celebrate; it’s the school holidays tomorrow. When I was leaving for work I heard they were arranging to have a picnic tomorrow morning with their school friends.”

Seymour said New Zealanders rallied behind the Shchetkovas because they could sense the deep injustice of the situation.

“The family made New Zealand their home six years ago, built a successful business employing 26 people, and now have strong connections in their community. As a country, we must be welcoming of hardworking and entrepreneurial migrants,” he said.

By: Lucy Bennett

Political Reporter, NZ Herald

RA Member, Seashore Cabaret pays all 52 staff living wage

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A Wellington cafe worker says working in hospitality would be hard if she was not being paid the living wage.

Joyce Tung, 31, has been working at Seashore Cabaret in Petone, Lower Hutt, as a barista since the cafe opened three years ago.

Tung started out on $17 per hour, but gradually increased to her current wage $22 per hour, slightly higher than the living wage. The living wage is currently $20.55 but will increase to $21.15 in September this year.

On April 1 her bosses, co-owners of Seashore Cabaret Matt Wilson and Freya Atkinson, achieved their three-year ambition to pay all 52 staff the living wage – a base rate of $21.15 or nearly $44,000 a year.

The Seashore Cabaret cafe co-owners Matthew Wilson and Freya Atkinson say happy staff are the key to a successful business.

The Seashore Cabaret cafe co-owners Matthew Wilson and Freya Atkinson say happy staff are the key to a successful business. Photo credit: ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Tung said her pay determined whether she would continue working in hospitality.

“I always tried to make hospitality a career but if I wasn’t getting paid what I am now, it would be hard for me to want to keep working in hospitality. I would have probably started my own cafe. But for what I’m getting paid it’s quite comfortable to be working for someone,” Tung said.

According to Careers NZ, the average wage for a barista was between $18 and $19 per hour.

Since her recent pay rise, Tung said she could save at least $150 more a week.

“When you’re making the minimum wage and you have to pay rent and other expenses, you can manage to save if you’re good at budgeting, but it’s still hard,” Tung said.

On April 1, the minimum wage lifted to $17.70 an hour and the pension increased 2.6 per cent to $411.15 a week for single people living alone, or $632.54 for couples.

Wellington cafe worker Joyce Tung says being paid more than the living wage encouraged her to continue working in hospitality.

Wellington cafe worker Joyce Tung says being paid more than the living wage encouraged her to continue working in hospitality.

The minimum wage lift is the biggest increase to the minimum wage ever enacted in one jump. It is part of the Government’s plans to increase the minimum wage to $20 an hour by 2021.

The living wage, has no legal standing and is set by the Living Wage Aotearoa not-for-profit organisation. The living wage is set at a level that is needed for workers to cover the basic expenses of life including food, transportation, housing and childcare.

In June last year the Government decided all core public service employees would be paid at least the living wage.

Seashore Cabaret owner Matt Wilson is an industry veteran and has owned various cafes for 25 years.

All 52 staff, from chefs to cleaners, at Seashore Cabaret will be paid at least the living wage $21.15.

All 52 staff, from chefs to cleaners, at Seashore Cabaret will be paid at least the living wage $21.15. Photo Credit: MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

He said valuing staff was one of the keys to running a successful business in the hospitality industry.

“The minimum wage is just too low for any sort of decent existence, I believe. Especially in Wellington with the massive costs of rentals and stuff I don’t see how people can get by. We can afford to do it so we’ve done it and we’re very proud of it,” Wilson said.

“If you’re really good to staff and pay better they want to work with you for longer which is invaluable. We want to keep staff turnover low because hiring and training new staff is expensive and time consuming.”

Wilson said too many businesses in the industry focused too much on the bottom line.

“A lot of businesses in the hospitality industry focused on the bottom line and everything is fit into percentages. Everyone wants to cut their wage costs at 30 per cent. We’re a little more philosophical, we focus on the staff, produce and cafe environment. If you get those three things perfect, then the bottom line takes care of itself.”

But the business has not completely ignored profits.

“We’ve been profitable since day one. I understand there’s probably a lot of businesses that probably can’t afford to do it, but there’s also an awful lot of huge businesses and big multinationals that it would cost them nothing to do that overnight.”

Capital Cuisine: Wellington spoiled for food choices but most restaurants won’t last three years

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Wellington city is home to 882 places where you can find a bite to eat – one for every 236 people to be exact.

That puts the capital in strong shape internationally, with New York City by comparison having one eatery per 460 people.

But the pace of churn in the industry is severe.

If you made it your life mission to eat at every Wellington restaurant, cafe and bar, it would only be a year before about one in five places on your original list no longer existed.

Hummingbird head chef Isaac Chamberlain says the capital's restaurant scene is healthy, and has remained constant during his 12 years on and off in Wellington.
Hummingbird head chef Isaac Chamberlain says the capital’s restaurant scene is healthy, and has remained constant during his 12 years on and off in Wellington. Photo credit: ROSA WOODS/STUFF

Seventy-five per cent of Wellington’s restaurants are under three years old, and the yearly turnover of restaurants, according to Wellington City Council data, is between 16 and 20 per cent.

Restaurant Association national president Mike Egan said the three-year average seemed to be an international phenomenon.

“The dynamic is pretty fraught with risk and people just get it wrong, or don’t know what they’re in for,” he said.

Restaurant Association national president Mike Egan says the average three-year lifespan of restaurants seems to be an international phenomenon.

Restaurant Association national president Mike Egan says the average three-year lifespan of restaurants seems to be an international phenomenon. Photo credit: JOHN NICHOLSON/STUFF

“Every night one customer might walk through the door, 160 customers might walk through the door – you never know.”

The high number of restaurants in the capital had been boosted by people’s increasing propensity for eating out, Egan said.

“We came from a background where you may have ate out once a month if you were lucky in the early 80s, to doing it on a weekly basis.”

But that hasn’t made the industry any less cutthroat.

Statistics New Zealand estimates only a little more half of new ventures survive after three years, and only 28 per cent survive a decade.

Yet a small contingent of restaurants have beaten the odds, with fifteen restaurants in the capital making it past 24 years in business with no shift in ownership.

Council figures found that in the year to April, 340 eateries had either opened or changed hands.

Some of the notable newcomers include Whistling Sister Beer Company’s restaurant and brewing hub, The Fermentary, along with British pastry chef Jackie Lee Morrison’s Lashings.

The latter is based in the upstairs lounge that was once home to Six Barrel Soda Co, and serves an inventive array of brownies, including vegan coconut salted caramel brownies as well as vegemite varieties.

Well-known capital cafe The Lido, now 28 years old, also reopened its doors late last year after closing for nearly ten months during an earthquake re-strengthening focused refurbishment.

Well-known Wellington cafe The Lido reopened late last year. It has been a player on the capital food scene for nearly three decades.

The Lido – Image credit: KEVIN STENT/STUFF 

Wellington Hospitality Group chief executive Jamie Williams said, in a word, Wellington’s food scene was “unpretentious”, with most places sticking to the price point of $17 to $20 for a main course.

The Wellington food scene also had a growing footprint in Cuisine’s 100 top restaurants, swelling from 13 establishments in 2017, to 22 last year.

Outlasting the competition: a story of survival and balance

In the land of the humble public servant, Boulcott Street Bistro founder and co-owner John Lawrence notices his quietest days come after any news reports of excessive public-sector spending.

Established in 1991, the restaurant has served Wellington regulars and the political elite alike, walking the line between polished and casual dining.

The one constant seems to be its signature dish, aged beef fillet with bearnaise, red wine jus, and hand-cut chips, which makes up to 40 per cent of the restaurant’s main course orders.

Boulcott St Bistro's signature dish, aged beef fillet with bearnaise, red wine jus, and hand-cut chips.

Boulcott St Bistro’s signature dish, aged beef fillet with bearnaise, red wine jus, and hand-cut chips. Photo credit: MONIQUE FORD/STUFF

Lawrence credits his success partially to a matter of timing.

“There’s an element of luck involved for sure.

“Timing was everything … our timing was good, but we didn’t know that at the time.”

In the early 1990s fine dining, the kind with silver service and tail-coated waiters, was going out of fashion.

Yet even as classic fine dining eateries like Orsini’s were closing, there was still a demand for fine dining’s younger sister, the “polished casual” dining that Boulcott Street Bistro offered.

Lawrence has never considered Boulcott Street Bistro a “fine dining restaurant”.

“It’s a term I despise actually.”

Long-time Wellington food critic David Burton pictured at Boulcott St Bistro.

Long-time Wellington food critic David Burton pictured at Boulcott St Bistro. Photo credit: ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF

But more important than timing, Lawrence said, was hard work.

“There’s a fear of failure involved that keeps you going and I think at times financially we’ve been stretched, but you just dig deeper and you work your way through it and you never take anything for granted.

“Over the years have I ever considered closing the door? The answer is never.”

For Lawrence, the true mark of success was achieving what he had envisioned when opening.

“When we opened, we wanted to be a place you could throw your head back and roar with laughter, turn the music up, have a bit of a party, and I think that’s what we’ve done.”

Managing Easter Trading

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The Easter period is fast approaching!

Easter can get the better of many employers, as one of the more confusing public holiday periods. The public holidays over the Easter period this year are Good Friday (19th April) and Easter Monday (22nd April).

To alleviate any confusion, here’s our members only Easter 101 guide to your obligations over this upcoming public holiday period, which covers which days have restricted trading, employees working over the period, sale and supply of alcohol and more.

Download our Easter trading guide here.

Queenstown’s top dining establishments revealed

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Finalists announced in the Queenstown Hospitality Awards

The finalists have been announced in the Queenstown Hospitality awards and local diners are being invited to vote for their favourite place to dine out.

The finalists represent the top-notch dining establishments in the region as voted by the hospitality industry.

A number of establishments have received recognition in this year’s final line up including Botswana Butchery – receiving nods for its wine list and service and as a contender for restaurant of the year.

Newcomer White & Wongs has also been recognised for its team with nominations for outstanding front of house team along with an emerging chef award for Vinny Singh.

White & Wongs also picks up a nomination for its ambiance and design along with Musket’s and Moonshine and Tanoshi.

The Wellington general public are also able to vote for their favourite establishment in the First Table People’s Choice Award category.

17 awards will be handed out to the best of the Queenstown hospitality industry.  From crew members, to suppliers, to establishments – the best of the best will be celebrated for their contribution to creating a world-class hospitality scene in the region.

CEO Marisa Bidois says, “As a tourist mecca, Queenstown offers some of the best dining experiences in the country. Our goal is to recognise those providing an exceptional experience to both international visitors and the local dining community.”

Voting is open until 21st April and the winners will be revealed at the awards evening on Sunday 28th April.

Presented by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, the Queenstown Hospitality Awards were created to celebrate the legendary people and businesses bringing first class dining experiences to the Southern Lakes region of New Zealand.

Tickets to the event are on sale now, to purchase or for more information regarding the awards please visit Stay connected with key updates and announcements on our Facebook page @qthospitalityawards and Instagram @queenstownawards.

2019 Queenstown Hospitality Awards Finalists

Meadow Fresh Outstanding Barista

Barb Griffin, Provisions of Arrowtown
Benedicte Greenland,
Captains Restaurant
Madeleine Strömbäck, Joe’s Garage

Hellers Outstanding Café    

Bespoke Kitchen
Frank’s Eatery
Joe’s Garage
The Chop Shop Food Merchants
Vudu Cafe & Larder

The Cardona Distillery
Outstanding Bartender

Lewis Donaldson, The Bunker
Larry Gronau, Blue Kanu
Shaun White, Eichardt’s Bar
William Prior, The Sundeck

Asahi Outstanding Bar

Smiths Craft Beer House
The Sundeck
The World Bar

Restaurant Association of NZ
Outstanding Waiter

Alissa Bellei, Botswana Butchery
Bianca Stares, The Bunker
Gabrielle Cheetham, No5 Church Lane
Nathan Wakely, Bazaar Queenstown

Restaurant Association of NZ
Outstanding Front of House Team

Blue Kanu
La Rumbla
Tanoshi – Japanese Restaurant
White + Wong’s Queenstown

Restaurant Association of NZ
Emerging Chef

Karan Dhillon, Slow Cuts
Karina Ito, The Grille by Eichardt’s
Vinny Singh, White + Wong’s

Southern Hospitality
Outstanding Chef

Ben Batterbury, True South
Dining Room, The Rees Hotel
John Pickens, Akarua Wines &
Kitchen by Artisan
Ben Norfolk, The Bunker
Vaughan Mabee, Amisfield Bistro

Negociants Emerging Wine
Service Professional

Anna Krykunivsky, The Grille
by Eichardt’s
Gethin Curtis, QT Queenstown
Jeremy Olsen, Botswana Butchery

Nova Energy Outstanding Winery Restaurant   

Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan
Amisfield Bistro
Gibbston Valley


OneMusic Outstanding
Ambience & Design

Muskets & Moonshine
The Sherwood
White + Wong’s Queenstown


Crombie Lockwood Outstanding Central City Establishment

Blue Kanu
Tanoshi – Japanese Restaurant
The Bunker


 Eftpos NZ Outstanding

Botswana Butchery
La Rumbla
The Grille by Eichardt’s
True South Dining Room,
The Rees Hotel

Skyline Queenstown Outstanding
Sales Rep

Juanita Hart, Red + White Cellar
Karen Bisacre, Pernod Ricard
Martha Uhlig Barta, Southern

McCarthy Outstanding
Beverage Supplier

The Cardrona Distillery
Centrepoint Liquor Supplies
Red + White Cellar

NZI Outstanding Supplier

Bidfood Queenstown
Kaan’s Catering Supplies
Southern Hospitality