Restaurants have food, drinks and live crays

5:02 PM Friday March 23, 2018 Paul Charman

35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant and Bar operates from leased premises at Paihia’s wharf. Photo / Supplied

Two well-known food-and-beverage businesses, with a shared operation within leased premises on Paihia’s wharf in Northland, have been placed on the market.  

“This sale, in extra-busy location right at the epicentre of Bay of Islands tourism, creates an excellent opportunity for a new operator,” says Paul Dixon, Bayleys’ tourism and hospitality group manager.

With colleague, Carolyn Hanson, Dixon is selling as one combined business, the enterprise operations of 35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant and Bar; and the adjoining Alongside Restaurant. Expressions of interest for the dual business, featured in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio magazine, close at 4pm on Thursday April 12.

Both venues are on 10-year leases running through to 2023, with one 10-year right of renewal and a further seven-year rights of renewal after that. Rent on the two properties totals $302,000 per annum.

Dixon says the two businesses would suit an existing restaurant operator looking to take a step up in size and scale.

He says the fully licensed wharf entities, at 69 Marsden Rd, have been strategically developed to complement different sectors of Paihia’s hospitality market.

“This is the place where throngs of tourists board or alight from ferries, sight-seeing vessels, cruise ships, fishing charters and adventure-tourism boats,” he says.

“Collectively, they can seat 460 patrons, drawn from among locals along with national and international tourists, plus seasonal cruise ship passengers. Nearby Waitangi Wharf is the main disembarking point for cruise ship passengers, while these ‘floating cities’ dock in the middle of the bay.

“In the current cruise ship season, running from September 2017 to June 2018, the Bay of Islands is scheduled to host 63 passenger liners.”

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Alongside Restaurant’s outside deck totals 600sq m. Photo / Supplied

Dixon says the casual-dining operation known as 35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant and Bar, commenced towards the end of 2013.

“A previous, somewhat dated hospitality operation, ran in various guises on the site for several decades. The Alongside function venue opened shortly after that, in December 2013.”

He says the two new venues — which share food and beverage storage and preparation amenities but offer different ambiences — retain the previous entity’s famous 60,000 litre centre-piece aquarium.

“Ironically, the scores of fish which survived the noise and disruption of a long refurbishment programme all died a year later when power to the venue was cut by Cyclone Lusi, and staff were prevented from entering the premises for health and safety reasons.

“In a twist of fate, the demise of 35 Degrees’ fish population ensured the restaurant’s aquarium crayfish contingent had plenty of protein to feast on — with some of the surviving crustacean still on show today.

“The 35 Degrees operation targets walk-in diners or those seeking a casual drink,” Dixon says. “Alongside restaurant is a larger and more open-plan venue suitable for functions like weddings, birthday or anniversary groups, parties, and corporate functions. The outside deck, much of it shielded by canopy or umbrellas, totals 600sq m.

“Sitting above the waterline, the wharf and deck creates an atmosphere few other destinations in Northland can replicate.”

Hanson says the two venues offer efficiencies of scale in stock purchasing, staffing, and back-office administration.

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35 Degrees South targets walk-in diners or those seeking a casual drink. Photo / Supplied

Combined, they employ 25 full-time staff, with 20 part-timers brought in over the busy summer period – making it one of the largest food and beverage operations in Northland.

Together, the dual businesses generated a turnover of more than $3 million in the 2016/17 financial year.

Unless booked for private functions, 35 Degrees only operates for lunch and evening dinner service, while Alongside opens for breakfast right through to dinner, with most of its functions being held in the latter part of the day.

High-profile chef Martin Bosley designed the menu served by 35 Degrees.

“From the outset, the business owners carefully analysed food and beverage spending patterns for Paihia Wharf, the nearby town and in Russell on the other side of the bay. With a proliferation of ‘coffee and muffin’ styled food outlets in both locations, they chose not to compete in that sector — and it’s a decision which has proven to be totally apt,” Hanson says.

“Late afternoons and evenings are when both 35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant and Bar, and Alongside come into their own — a time when they dominate the hospitality and functions markets in Paihia.

“With the ‘engine room’ of the businesses – comprising the kitchen and bar infrastructure, and customer toilets - physically straddling the two entities, each operates simultaneously while serving different bookings or audiences,” Hanson says.

“Their location right on the Paihia waterfront — immediately adjacent to the town’s central park, and at the entrance to the departure point for virtually all of the bay’s marine-related tourism activities — means 35 Degrees South Aquarium Restaurant and Bar has a substantial profile to foot traffic and is often the default venue of choice for walk-in customers.”