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Pizza is next slice of life for the Marquis

The spruced-up Marquis Hotel is about to become Chapelli’s, Carterton’s newest pizzeria and bar.

Operator Steve Chapman has run various pizzerias during his career, including Kelburn’s award-winning Red Tomato, and Chapelli’s branches in Featherston and Lower Hutt.

“I kept driving past the building and seeing the ‘for lease’ sign, so I decided to take it over,” Chapman said.

“I like the heritage of the building. It has some interesting history. People say the late queen [Elizabeth II] stood on the balcony when she came to Wairarapa.”

Chapman said the restaurant would open in a month’s time, and admitted being “a bit nervous, but excited”.

The building has been empty for seven months to be earthquake strengthened and renovated.

Chapman said the inside was now in good shape but cleaning the hotel’s exterior – which had seen better days – still topped the to-do list.

The original hotel was built in 1876 by Thomas Hooker, who previously owned the Belvedere Sawmill, and was subsequently taken over by Henry Callaher, a canny businessman who made a lot of money.

In January 1924, the hotel burnt down but was rebuilt in six months.

Wairarapa historian Gareth Winter said the venue was incredibly popular in its heyday.

“It was described as the best hotel in New Zealand.

“Hotels were very important in those days because there were no motels. If you ever needed to stay in Carterton, this would’ve been where.”

The hotel’s popularity peaked between 1908 and 1947, when Masterton was a dry borough, Winter said.

“The liquor ban didn’t apply in Carterton, so even though it was a small town, much of the drinking took place there.”

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