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Burger joint missing its craft

HAYLEY GASTMEIER

[email protected]

A dampener was put on what should have been a big night for Martinborough’s Burger Craft, with New Year’s Eve celebrations at the restaurant missing one of its main ingredients – beer.

The burger joint specialises in craft beers but a mishap with its liquor licence was discovered on the 11th hour before the South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] went on summer break, leaving owner Matt Pearce with no option but to take cold brews off the menu.

He said the fiasco had knocked his business’ income down by 37 per cent, and he had reduced staff numbers to help offset the loss, even though it was the busiest time of year.

Pearce said he’d usually roster on five staff members to work alongside him on a busy night, but he planned on rocking New Year’s Eve with just two others.

The ordeal began with a typo on the original liquor licence issued to the Jellicoe St eatery.

The document was dated to expire in December 2020 and was signed by SWDC chief executive Paul Crimp.

An on-licence is granted initially for one year, and can then be renewed every three years, according to legislation.

But Pearce said when he received the licence, he saw the date, saw the signature, put the notice up in the window as required by law, and thought nothing more it.

Pearce said there was the option of the council issuing a temporary licence, but he was told that this had been ruled out for now as SWDC lawyers had advised against it.

He said he was over having to explain to customers why beer was a no-go, and having them walk out as a result.

“It’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating, and I feel sorry for my staff having to go through the same process … due to the council’s error.”

He said the wide range of craft beers, some of which were local, and the Martinborough wines he had on offer were a major drawcard to his customers.

Burger Craft had been showered with an “amazing amount of community support” as a result of the licensing stuff-up, and this was humbling, Pearce said.

Featherston councillor Lee Carter said she had apologised to Pearce for “this very unfortunate situation”.

“It’s important the we look after our local businesses, who invest in the well-being of our communities, providing employment and contributing to the district’s economic growth.”

Carter said the error made on the initial paperwork was unacceptable.

Apparently, the council sent out a renewed licence in March with the correct date on it, but it was sent to the wrong address despite Pearce updating his contact details in February.

“This could have been avoided quite simply by SWDC paying a friendly visit to Burger Craft business who are situated just around the corner in the same town to advise of the overdue renewal liquor licence, especially since there was nine months to do so.”

SWDC says it did not receive an updated address, with chief executive Paul Crimp expressing frustration that the legislation did not allow such errors to be rectified efficiently.

Mayor Viv Napier agreed legislation was not flexible in these situations and sympathised with Pearce’s situation.

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