‘Lunch ahoy’ — capital’s floating cafe for sale

5:00 AM Saturday July 15, 2017 True Commercial

The Boat floating cafe is permanently moored adjacent to the Freyberg Pool, at the southern end of Oriental Bay. Photo / Supplied

A former tugboat permanently moored in Wellington’s Freyberg Lagoon, plus the busy Boat Cafe business within it, are now for sale.

The long-time and popular floating restaurant — moored adjacent to the Freyberg Pool and Fitness Centre, at the southern end of Oriental Bay — is being sold with its going-concern business.

Bayleys Wellington will sell boat and business through a tender process, to conclude on August 2.

Built in Scotland, the tugboat went into service in 1958 as the Auckland Harbour Board tug, Aucklander.

After being retired from active harbour service in 1986, it was bought by Wellington businessman Clem Griffiths and came south to become the capital's first floating restaurant.

The boat was renamed Tapuhi II, and from the early-1990s traded as The Tugboat on the Bay floating restaurant, and later, Skippers Seafood Restaurant.

The owners of Oriental Bay’s Parade Cafe, Aldwyn and Janet Cockburn, purchased the craft in 2010, when buildings housing the Parade Cafe were demolished to make way for an apartment complex.

The Cockburns subsequently leased the tugboat cafe business to their longstanding Parade Cafe general manager, Diane Schollar, who renamed the business Boat Cafe.

Mark Sherlock of Bayleys says the boat itself and the business will be sold as one. He expects strong interest from owner-operators looking for a different hospitality opportunity.

“The boat has a full commercial kitchen and more than 700sq m of dining and event/function spaces over various levels and decks. The business has the potential to really take off under enthusiastic and innovative management,” he says.

“With the Oriental Parade walkway such a popular path, the tugboat’s cafe business really hums. Walkers, cyclists, family groups and tourists drop in for a coffee or a bite to eat and for the chance to see the harbour from a different perspective.

“The day-time trade is proven, however there is definitely potential to crank up the events and evening trade aspect of the business to add income.”

True Commercial - Tugboat restaurant%2c Wellington harbour - interior.jpg

The former tug has a full commercial kitchen and more than 700sq m of dining over various levels and decks. Photo / Supplied

Sherlock says the boat’s layout would lend itself to mini-conference or team training events. He believes a fresh set of eyes and some new ideas could see business returns going from good to great.

The cafe itself operates from the main deck of the vessel and is fitted out to provide a main service bar area, full commercial kitchen and various dining areas most of which have expansive sea views. There are also restroom facilities on this level.

Stairs from the main cafe lead down to a large lounge area set up as an events venue with bar, storage and direct access to restrooms. Another flight of stairs leads up from the main cafe to an upper level lounge and bar plus an office area in the very front of the vessel. There is a further upper level with a smaller lounge area and storage.

The tugboat is in tidy interior condition and currently the front portion of the boat is being re-waterproofed and painted, says Sherlock.

“The tugboat has a Wellington City Council licence to occupy. This includes seven exclusive free-of-charge carparks, along with resource consent and a coastal permit from the Regional Council.”