Join CBD Bar on Facebook. A year after opening a suburban pub and restaurant to sell their beer after the earthquakes, the Cassels family is putting the finishing touches to three new central-city bars.Fresh from their success at The Brewery on an old Woolston tannery site, the family is spending $1 million fitting out a historic Madras St building and will open its first outlet there next month.
"We've got a big fancy fit-out and we are excitedly spending big fancy money to create big fancy bars," Zak Cassels said.
"We figure there's a lack of bars around. We're keen to be part of Christchurch and help get our city back. We know how to do it."
The ground floor will house CBD, an Art Deco-style bar aimed mainly at night patrons. Opening soon after will be a cocktail bar, and then a music venue. An outdoor hospitality space in what is now a car park will follow.
Also involved are Zak's brewing partner and brother-in-law, Joe Shanks, and father Alasdair Cassels, who owns The Brewery next to the family craft beer plant and a boutique shopping arcade under construction next door.
The century-old Madras St building previously housed a public relations company and belongs to Alasdair's brother, Wellington property developer Ian Cassels, who was behind stalled plans for the Urban Winery development on the block.
News of the project comes as city hospitality operators report that business is more than brisk.
Pomeroys' Old Brewery Inn owner Steve Pomeroy said since reopening about a month after the February 2011 quake, things had gone "gangbusters".
Business was up about 20 per cent since the quake, and he had hired three extra staff.
"In general, anyone who has got a pub up and running is certainly better off and doing well," he said.
Dux Live owner Richard Sinke said many bar owners were finding business was up 40 per cent on what they had expected.
But the gains were more a "blip" than a boom.
"If you take out half the competition, and the better half at that, those that remain have a good chance to do well," he said.
Sinke said it would be "interesting" to see what happened when more of the "mature" operators got back into the market in the next two to three years.
"If the boom doesn't happen, there will be a lot of people struggling," he said.
Vic's Cafe owner Graham Perrem said he was up about 30 per cent on pre-quake business. He attributed it to more roads being open and fewer cafes around.
Hospitality Association Canterbury president Peter Morrison said customers were not spending more; more people were going to fewer places.
"It's a supply- and-demand thing. The customer is actually spending less because of the recession," he said.
Source: The Press
Photo: John Kirk-Anderson