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New venture adventure: Salt n Pepper Cafe

Buying a hospitality business during the Covid-19 lockdown could be seen as a risky venture. That is, however, exactly what Dharambir Judge did when the opportunity arose to purchase the Salt n Pepper Café in Hanmer Springs.


“Certainly, I had some sleepless nights about it,” says Dharambir. “But I concentrated on the positives of the situation I had been presented with.

“My friend Amandeep worked in the café as a manager and knew what a wonderful location it is in and how it could be a thriving enterprise once again when restaurants were able to open.

“Above all I have always wanted to have my own business, and this was too good a chance to throw away.”

Salt n Pepper occupies a superb position in the Boulder Point retail development, with stunning views of Conical Hill and surrounding countryside so diners can treat their eyes and recharge their souls as they enjoy the delicious and varied range of food.

“I was lucky a friend agreed to support my bid to buy the café. We opened to the public again the day before the July school holidays started and since then we have had a great response from patrons.”

Dharambir and his team are now looking to the future and to making Salt n Pepper Café the place everyone wants to dine at in Hanmer Springs.

Open seven days for breakfast and lunch, and dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings for now, extending to every night with the warmer weather.



Luxury in Hanmer: Village Lake Apartments

For the ultimate luxurious getaway, set in the heart of beautiful Hanmer Springs, one simply cannot overlook Village Lake Apartments, where exceptional hospitality awaits.


The modern spacious apartments are the perfect place for any occasion, whether a romantic getaway, family escape or even a corporate meeting.


Village Lake Apartments provides you with luxury and refinement which is second to none.

All apartments feature a fully self-contained kitchen, full laundry facilities, spa bath (the accessible apartment has a tiled walk in shower), under floor heating and gas fire.

Comfort is prominent, with luxurious beds in all the apartments ensuring the best night’s sleep and stylish décor to match, Village Lake Apartments truly has a ‘home away from home’ vibe.

Within a few minutes’ walk of the Hanmer Hot Pools and other local amenities, Village Lake Apartments should be the only choice for those wanting the best.

Check online for their amazing mid-week deals or treat yourself to that special weekend away.




Helping Hospo

You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the country’s hospitality operators as we moved into Alert Level 1. Gathering restrictions have been removed and all current COVID-19 rules on businesses and services have lifted.



The move to Level 1 means that many hospitality operators can now begin to reclaim a sense of normality and this will provide customers the much-needed confidence to go out and safely socialise (and spend) again.

Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive, Julie White, says our team of five million should be proud of the significant achievement we’ve made in getting to no active COVID-19 cases.

“The hospitality sector has also shown incredible resilience throughout this difficult time banding together to ensure that the health and safety of our communities remains paramount,” she says.

“They’ve been forced to adapt to different ways of operating as each level has decreased, and the restrictions that hospitality operators (and their customers) have had to wrestle with have been incredibly challenging – so, we’re very excited to be getting back to business.”

Hospitality New Zealand expects that with restrictions such as social distancing and table service restraints lifted, businesses in the hospitality and accommodation sectors will start to recover and slowly return, over time, to profitability.

While some accommodation providers and leisure hotspots saw a return to normal visitor and occupancy levels over Queen’s Birthday weekend, the following day’s return saw a huge dip – with a mere five percent occupancy rate in the accommodation sector, demonstrating the long road ahead to recovery.

The full year forecast predicts 30 percent occupancy (at best) for accommodation and hotel providers.

Similarly, the challenges of COVID-19 have also led to a 30 percent reduction in employment across the hospitality sector.

While the recently announced changes to the Wage Subsidy extension is expected to assist an additional 40,000 businesses across the country, this alone won’t be enough to save many operators, Julie says.

If you’re financially able to, perhaps it’s time to consider taking a domestic ‘Staycation’ (booked through a local travel agent, of course!), heading out for a much-needed date night at a local restaurant and grabbing some gift vouchers from your favourite venues so you can share the love!

“The hospitality sector relies on people – tourists, office workers, social gatherings and foot traffic,” Julie says.

“With Kiwis now encouraged to go back to their workplaces, this presents a huge opportunity for people to support their local hospitality businesses.

“As a nation, we’ve shown solidarity and performed incredibly well to fight this health crisis.

With the transition to Level 1, we can all step up and play our part in supporting the full recovery of Kiwi businesses which have been hit so hard.”


Longhurst’s luxe local: The Long Knight

The Long Knight is a family-friendly gastro pub with delicious meals and snacks to cater for most taste buds.



Happily situated in the heart of the Longhurst and Knight Stream subdivisions, opposite the Longhurst Medical Centre, with outdoor seating overlooking Greenaway Park, it is an ideal place to relax and enjoy a cool drink and warm hospitality.

Premium beverages and amazing cocktails are a must-try, along with their new winter menu!

Every evening is special at The Long Knight – on Monday, mouth-watering ribs are $20; Tuesday features happy hour from 5pm-7pm and a regular pub quiz night starts at 7pm; Wednesdays offer a $20 burger and pint; Thursday night every house beer, wine or spirit is just $7 and on Fridays there is happy hour from 5pm-7pm with live sport.

Saturday has live sport on the big screens and you can cap off a great weekend with a Sunday roast at just $20. Not to mention, once a month there’s Musical Bingo!

The Long Knight has a hidden gem with its across-the-bar Bottle Shoppe sales, so you can purchase your takeaways on your way home or when setting off to your friends’ BBQ or party.

If you are organising a fundraiser for your sporting club, school or kindy, look no further, because The Long Knight is well known for its quiz or music bingo fundraiser nights which can be tailored to your needs.

Open from 11am to late every day, the Long Knight has lots to offer. Head in and find out for yourself.


Tavern ticks all of the boxes: The Elmwood Trading Company

Marty and Naomi Fuller are the proud owners of The Elmwood Trading Co., a locally loved tavern that has an amazing community around it. Metropol caught up with Marty about how they’ve been getting on since taking over the reins 22 months ago.


Chef Henry Liang and Marty Fuller


With a massive grin on his face he tells us that they’ve been “Absolutely thrilled with the response!

“We wanted to create a friendly, value for money, local tavern – almost like a home away from home. The Elmwood was already going well, it was established but had a lot of potential in its food operation. So, we brought our chef, Henry Liang, his kitchen and some front of house staff from our previous hotel Trevinos,” Marty raves.

A new space meant undertaking the creation of new menus and the addition of daily specials; not to mention adding to their extensive wine list.

Some notable newbies are the garlic prawn hot pots and (a personal favourite of ours) the red curry lamb shank – both pictured.

The Elmwood is extremely versatile with a separate function area as part of the restaurant, where “we can host meetings, seminars, fundraising quiz nights and birthday parties,” Marty says.

“If the event is big enough, we can utilise the whole restaurant.”

If you’re just popping in, they also have a gaming lounge with 18 gaming machines, TAB, huge tv screens and a great outdoor area with year-round heating.

Walking into those double doors you can feel the warm energy radiating from the restaurant, the staff and the lovely owners.

Marty ecstatically says, “we tick a lot of boxes” and we wholeheartedly agree.


red curry lamb shank
garlic prawn hot pots










Supporting tourism and hospitality: Peter Morrison

Peter Morrison is known as a guru of hospitality, or more formally as the President of Hospitality New Zealand – Canterbury, and senior member of the New Zealand Board. He is also World President of SKAL International, representing New Zealand’s tourism and hospitality sectors on the world stage and connecting tourism globally. Metropol caught up with Peter about how we can support our tourism and hospitality sectors moving forward.

How has lockdown been treating you Peter?

Yes, like everyone else it is very challenging in these such unprecedented times.

What are you most excited about post-lockdown?

To get my beloved hospitality and tourism industry back to being the number one export earner for New Zealand.

World tourism has taken a real beating and our Skal members world-wide are struggling.

Realistically this will take some time as we have been hurt the worst with social distancing, border closures and many more major issues putting big obstacles in our way.

You’ve long talked about the importance of community support for hospitality, what are some of the best ways we can look to support our tourism and hospitality businesses?

For hospitality venues – hotels, motels, backpackers, bars, restaurants and cafés – to survive, we are really going to need our local residents and domestic travellers to ‘come to the party’ and give us all the support they can possibly give.

This will apply to all retail shopping as well, not online!

What would you like to see coming through from Government level?

We are very appreciative of the Wage Subsidy that has been given; it is imperative that this is extended.

We are talking with Government to also give our industry priority.

We have been the worst industry affected and really been under siege.

In Australia the wage subsidy is for six months and small to medium businesses (SMBs) have been given between $20,000 and $100,000 to help with all the costs and overheads that still must be paid while businesses have been shut.

What advice would you give to businesses that are being hard hit during these challenges?

While we are aware how unprecedented this crisis is, we are together in sharing the immense challenge, change, sadness and uncertainty.

COVID-19 has been able to grip the world in a way we’ve not experienced before, but because of our connectedness, the tourism and hospitality industry’s strong ties are what will ensure that we will build our industry again – doing business amongst friends!


Emma Chisholm

Forging a tourism career: Emma Chisholm

Emma Chisholm is continuing a strong tradition as the third generation of her family to forge a career in the Southern Lakes tourism industry – and she inherited her parents’ knack for thinking outside the square.


Emma Chisholm


Having bought tour company Alpine Adventures last year, Emma and fiancé Lee Saunders recently launched Alpine Wine Tours. It’s a natural progression for Emma, who admits that tourism and hospitality are in her blood.  After arriving in Queenstown in 1966, her grandmother Lorna became Skyline Gondola’s café manager and in the 1970s her father Adrian was hotel manager of Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown. In the 1980s Emma’s parents set up a quirky local business called Henry’s Backcountry Flying Pub Crawl, using small planes to transport customers to country pubs in the middle of nowhere.


Tourism and hospitality are in her blood

That entrepreneurial flair rubbed off on Emma, who has introduced a few points of difference to separate their business from the competition. As a result Alpine Wine Tours offers group tours exclusively for adults (children are welcome on private or custom tours). It also offers brewery and distillery tours for those interested in how beer and spirits are made.

There’s no doubt the Central Otago wine tourism industry is flourishing, with research by Tourism New Zealand and winegrowers revealing that around 25 percent of international tourists seek out a wine experience. Emma and Lee are looking forward to seizing the opportunity to make their mark.  “Wine tourism has huge growth potential, especially when teamed with Queenstown’s future growth,” Emma says. “It’s definitely exciting times ahead.”



Jason Whitelaw

Creating an ‘extraordinary’ city: Jason Whitelaw

“There has to be a point of difference,” says Jason Whitelaw, hospitality specialist, developer, builder, foodie and regular globetrotter.


Jason Whitelaw


Jason practices what he preaches; even back in in his living in London days, he ran an upmarket Mayfair pub – so far, very Kiwi, but Jason’s pub became renowned for hosting the a-listers. It was, after all, none other than Guy Ritchie’s establishment, The Punchbowl in Farm Street.  Jason clearly has his finger on the pulse and he knows the places that we are seeking before we do to enjoy good food, drink and style. Our city’s rebuild has attracted criticism for an obsession with glass and steel, missing the opportunity for creating an ‘extraordinary’ Christchurch. Jason however, seems to be onto it.


His current hospo masterstroke is Louis Champagne and Oyster Bar. Sophisticated but not overblown, its owner, like Louis XV, is keen on architecture, design and innovation and Jason has produced one of Christchurch’s most stunning and elegant bars around. Having had a lot to do with horse racing, combining champagne and glamour, naturally there is a focus on Cup Week at Louis, with events held right through the spring carnival, starting with Melbourne Cup through to the Hagley Park Polo in January.
Next door is Red Light District, which is cleverly concealed behind the drycleaner’s façade, Charlie Winston’s of Chelsea. Themed around a Chinese opium den with an emphasis on high-end cocktails, Red Light District captures the atmosphere and character that those of us who come of age in Christchurch have been craving for these past eight years.

New venture You Hanoi Me, Pho Disco and Honky Tonk will complete the trifecta in the foodie, cocktail destination that is the Vicinity Precinct on Victoria Street. Despite recent negative press about the street, business is booming and may just be due to Jason’s insight. With another new destination looming for Jason’s Hospitality Group, Bar Bar Black Sheep Ltd sees the old Saggio site, a gentle stroll away, set to be a new Greek restaurant that Jason is launching.
Jason really is diverse and and burns the candle at both ends; developing and building keeps him extremely busy with projects on all around town. From the 300 worker accommodation that is the innovative Workotel in Riccarton, to hugely successful developments like Flemington and Clearwater Springs, Jason keeps going and has recently launced his latest project, Verdeco Park at Lincoln.


This is set to be New Zealand’s first ‘Wellness Subdivision’ and Jason says our country is making great strides in environmental sustainability. “But I want to extend that to the whole development, from the ground up,” he adds.
With innovative design and eco management, this could possibly be a benchmark for developers going forward. It’s obvious that Jason has worked hard. A strong work ethic and ‘blue sky thinking’ enables him to put these deals together and produce some quite extraordinary venues. An ability to see what we want and execute it has put both himself and his projects firmly on the map in Christchurch and it appears that there is more to come – so watch this space.



Drifters Inn

Hospitality and ambience: Drifters Inn

Location, location, location – you really can’t say it any other way when you’re talking about the Drifters Inn. Located straight across from the thermal pools and close to the town centre, it’s ideally located for your event in the idyllic Hanmer Springs.

Drifters Inn


With a welcoming environment, people come from all over New Zealand to enjoy the relaxed ambience and hospitality here. Catering to birthdays, work events, special occasions and much more, the friendly, knowledgeable staff customise your event.
Catering can be arranged, but with barbecues, a well-equipped kitchen area, as well as a spacious open lounge/function area and courtyard, there’s plenty of scope to create your own bespoke function. With 18 rooms available to suit couples to families, you can relax by the open fireplace after a day of events.

So, make your way to the Drifters Inn, 2 Harrogate Street or contact Adele or Andy to discuss your requirements 03-315 7554 or

Dream It

Lifting the bar: Dream It makes the imagination of Christchurch’s hospitality industry a reality

It may be a commercial art and theming company based on the northern edge of the city, but Dream It Ltd has been helping to raise the bar for nightlife throughout the city, both in the figurative and literal sense.

Dream It

When hospitality owner and developer Max Bremner wanted to renovate Yellow Cross in Sol Square, he approached owner of Dream It, Dean Johnstone. With the ability to conceptualise and create themes, the company has completed about 23 bars. And, although the earthquakes put paid to the Yellow Cross renovations, they opened up the opportunity for another job, three years later.
When Max rebuilt popular Irish bar The Bog on Victoria Street, he tasked Dean with the radical new ‘steampunk’ themed décor, before the contract extended to include the signage and overall interior theme, including the back bar whisky displays etc.
“Dean did an absolutely magnificent job,” Max says.
“He’s an extremely talented man I wouldn’t use anyone else. The success of our bars has very much come down to his artistic talent.”
When Max went on to purchase and develop the building alongside the Strip with Richard Peebles last year, Dean was tasked with the theming of the three hospitality venues which made their commercial homes here – Fat Eddies, Kong and Original Sin, working alongside Architectural Designer John Ayers.
“It was a great opportunity, with its challenges, creating three completely unique environments,” Dean says.
The latest fitout for Max has been the new Bealey Ave Steak and Alehouse earlier this year. Previously part of the Speights Alehouse brand with its Dunedin specific branding, Max has created a Christchurch focused theme, with Dean responsible for bringing his plans to life.

Dream It “The Bealey was particularly challenging because it was a live bar,” Dean says.
“While the work was being carried out, people would be drinking at the bar and you know we’re all experts when we’re having a few,” he laughs about the unsolicited advice from patrons.
“On a more serious note, we did what it took to work around a functional bar, building throughout the night, early in the morning and doing what we could off site. That’s the range of capabilities we have.
“We’ve had a seven-year long relationship with Max and it’s still going strong.”