Fierce competition has failed to put a brake on expansion plans for Christchurch’s already crowded hospitality scene.
Despite some high profile closures, several old hospitality hands are forging ahead with plans for new premises.
They say survival is all about having a good business model, and offering the right product in the right location.
Bink Bowler of the Black and White Coffee Cartel is opening his second cafe opposite the bus interchange next week.
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Before year-end long time Chris Meyer, who previously co-owned the Harewood Raeward Fresh, will open a further two Black and White cafes under licence in Lichfield Lanes, and in the Billens building in High Street.
Peter Bucher, a former Subway franchisee, bought BBQ Brazil in Papanui three months ago and is negotiating to take over the Durham Street premises of the other BBQ Brazil which closed when the original owner quit the country.
Bucher said whatever the outcome, he was determined to open a second “all you can eat” Brazilian restaurant in Christchurch, and was also looking to expand to other South Island centres.
The new Crowne Plaza Christchurch hotel due to open mid year opposite the convention centre site announced on Wednesday that it will have an 80-seat restaurant, a ground-floor cafe and an upmarket wine bar.
General manager Reinier Eulinkch agreed competition was stiff, but said there was room for more outlets, and they expected to get a lot of trade from locals as well as from guests staying in the hotel’s 204 rooms.
The Christchurch City Council confirmed that over the last six months it had received 26 building consent applications for restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Over the same period it granted 43 liquor licences for hospitality outlets; 19 new applications and the remainder for a change of ownership.
Bowler’s take on the current situation was that cafes should stick to their knitting, but instead too many were offering table service and fancy food requiring fancy kitchens.
“Unfortunately a lot of cafes are more like restaurants, they’re ploughing more money into their kitchens rather than their coffee.
“It’s a recipe for disaster”.
Cost was also a turn off, and Bowler said a couple going out for brunch should be able to get coffee and food for $30, “but in Christchurch you end up spending $70”.
Bowler slashed his coffee costs by 60 per cent after investing in a roaster so he could process his own beans. “That added $70,000 to our bottom line”.
He also deliberately opted for simple cabinet food to keep prices down and did not hold a liquor licence.
Bucher said some landlords were being “greedy” expecting “ridiculous” rents and he said survival was all about developing the right branding.
“If you have a brand you’re going to get good bookings. If you don’t, you’re going to survive on marketing or word of mouth and hoping you can afford the rent”.
Meyer said he had negotiated a good deal from his landlords and he was confident the locations he had signed up would pay off.
Lichfield Lanes was a hospitality hub close to planned apartments in the East Frame, he said, and the Billens building was near the student market at Ara Institute of Technology.