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Setting the bar high for trainspotters

Chef Jorja Townend, brewer Mark Harris, and business partner Arthur Sandford toast to Sup Brewery’s new premises at Masterton Train Station. PHOTOS/TOM TAYLOR

Commuters will soon be able to step off the train and into the taproom when a brewery opens its doors onto the platform of Masterton Station.

Punters at Masterton’s newest bar will watch trains rolling in and out while they sip their drinks.

Masterton-owned Sup Brewery is ready to pour pints and dish out American barbecue-style cuisine to customers from tonight now that alert levels allow it.

Brewer and athletics coach Mark Harris said the lockdown had been a frustrating delay to the brewbar opening, especially after months of conversations with councils and compliance officers to get their venue ready for action.

Sup Brewery were all set to launch their new premises, and on the morning of Tuesday, August 17, they had even signed on a new chef.

That evening, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand would be heading into another lockdown, throwing the brewery’s launch plans into disarray.

“The hardest part is that we’ve employed people, so we’ve got wages to pay,” Harris said.

“Thankfully, we managed to get the wage subsidy to help pay people. If we hadn’t have gotten that, it would have been quite disastrous.”

Always eager to get up and running, Harris and his team had established an online ordering service for takeaways.

The service launched on the Friday before Father’s Day, and although sales had been slow, Harris felt they were gathering some interest from the community. Sup HQ would hold their official launch next Wednesday.

Before moving into the train station building, Harris and his business partner Arthur Sandford had run the brewery for about four years from Harris’ house in Lansdowne.

“We’d always had a plan that we were going to open a brewbar, so it was just about the right venue,” Harris said.

When someone told him to check out the signals office at the train station, Harris thought the location was perfect. When they went to check it out, they found it came with asbestos warnings.

However, the idea of a train station brewbar stuck, and it struck Sandford that the northern end of the train station building used to house a cafe.

“We took one look at it and thought of all the possibilities.

Harris said Greater Wellington Regional Council then gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Harris and Sandford had fitted the place out largely by themselves, with some experts called in for the finer details.

Sup Brewery pays homage to New Zealand’s great track and field athletes.

Adorning the walls are track and field stars – a shoutout to Harris’ “fulltime” gig as an athletics coach.

The beers on the gold, silver, and bronze taps took their names from famous athletes, from the “Sir Muz” fruit beer to the “Kwaxie” Belgian Dark.

A glass window allowed punters to inspect the brewery equipment from their seats. The bar’s licence also allowed it to place tables on the platform itself, giving customers the real trainspotting experience.

“We’re working to set the place up, and all of a sudden this train rolls in,” Harris said.

ewerry“After a little while, you start noticing when the trains are late or early.”

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