Bruce Tutty, owner of the Empire Hotel in Featherston, said he was prepped for reopening yesterday. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

ARTHUR HAWKES
arthur.hawkes@age.co.nz

It was a big day for Wairarapa bars yesterday [and those who enjoy them] as they were able to serve alcohol without food, for the first time since they were put under lockdown.

Previously they had only been able to do so if the alcohol came with a meal, which totally ruled out those venues without kitchens or licences to serve food.

Regent 58 Brewery and Alehouse has been a staple of Carterton social life for almost six years. Co-owner Brent Goble said they had been doing contactless deliveries with a “skeleton crew” and that he was looking forward to the opening.

“It’s great to get going again, but obviously we don’t really know what it’ll be like,” Goble said. “I suspect everyone’s so used to being in lockdown that a lot of people will be out of the habit of going out for a drink.

“There’s not a lot of room inside, so we’ll make it as comfortable and as pleasant for people outside as possible.

“I think because we have quite a strong local following the opening night is probably going to be quite busy, so we’ll probably have extra people on for that, but as for after that, I’m not overly optimistic at this stage.”

Jackson Street Bar in Masterton is also preparing for a busy opening night, having previously been closed until yesterday.

Manager Leanne Dean ssid she was looking forward the evening but was cautious to stick to the regulations laid out by the government.

The bar had been doing their own independent contact tracing, right up until they went under lockdown.

“I’m keen to get back in there, but we’ll have to see,” Dean said.

“I think people are chafing at the bit to get in, and I’m looking forward to it.

“We’re just going to follow on with the regulations, and we’ve got all our sanitiser and hygiene stuff ready.”

In Greytown, The White Swan, which had been able to serve food and drink alongside one another since the regulations came into place, expected a slight increase in custom, but nothing “wild”.

“I think more people will want to come out for a few drinks, but I don’t think we’re going to see anything wild,” bar manager Elliot Tremlett said, adding most patrons would have already come out to dine.

“I do think there will be a few more, and some of the familiar faces coming in, but I don’t think we’ll be steamrolled by people.”

The popular Greytown venue will also be running with an extra staff member to accommodate the slight bump in numbers.

In neighbouring Featherston, Bruce Tutty, owner of the Empire Hotel, said he was feeling good about yesterday, but that the loss of income had put a damper on things.

“It’s going to be interesting; we’ll see how it goes,” Tutty said. “I think a lot of the regulars that come in will be in during the day, so we’ll see how they go on, and whether it’s business as usual.

“It’s a positive thing; I’m looking forward to the opening. We’ve got some debts, but we’re in an okay state to open.

“Obviously we’ve lost a few months of profit, so that’s going to bite, but apart from that everything looks good, and we should have a good year – the remainder of it anyway.”

As for new measures, Empire Hotel joined all the other bars opening yesterday withseveral anti-covid regulations.

“We’re going to have to have an ongoing register, with the handwipes on the bench, with the serving staff wearing gloves, and maybe even organise tabs with a few of the regulars who can then just use eftpos
at the end.”

With winter setting in, Tutty said he was looking forward to doing what Wairarapa pubs do best: getting people inside, comfortable, and sheltered from the cold weather.

“We’ve got a fire going in the middle of the room, that normally attracts a few extra people.”



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