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Thread: Hospitality observations of the Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough regions from two weeks in April, 2013

  1. #1
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    Default Hospitality observations of the Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough regions from two weeks in April, 2013

    Hello,

    Sitting here waiting for my flight back to the states. A bit about this, I'm looking at opening a small craft brewery and wood-fired pizzeria in the top of the south island region. I submitted my business visa application and there was a potential brewery for sale that we could have added a wood-fired oven to so we decided to come out for two weeks and check things out and get a boots on the ground perspective. We have been here twice previously in November 2010 and November-December 2011.

    We had been in this area previously and really enjoyed the area and saw lots of potential to do what we do currently in Colorado and New Mexico and felt we would try and nail down a location or buy the brewery that was (sold right before we arrived). By doing our due diligence on this brewery we gained heaps of information that was incredibly valuable to our business plan. We also looked at several other potential properties while here. We had a good time and learned very much.

    Overall the biggest thing we realized is that in the off season (April-November) the restaurant traffic is very, very slim. Driving by the popular restaurants and breweries at 8pm on a Friday night we'd only see 3-4 tables occupied max; OUCH! We'd time it so that we'd drive from Motueka at 7pm and arrive in Nelson at 8pm driving the Richmond, Stoke, Tahunanui, and Nelson areas. We did this night after night and drive out to Mot so that we'd leave Nelson at 11:45ish to observe lunch crowds. Lunch was busier than dinner but still very quiet. The Sprig & Ferns draw more of a crowd but mostly 'blokes' getting on the piss from the times we were there. The Freehouse in Nelson seemed to have a crowd of family oriented folks Wed-Sunday. Golden Bear brewery in Mapua did a very nice business drawing out the biggest crowds. After two weeks of driving around we came to the conclusion that those places that have a good solid atmosphere, quality food (either served or available next door), and great beer seemed to do acceptably well.

    From prior observations we realized that during the tourist season it is very busy but now we realize that one must be prepared for some very lean times the other half of the year.

    What will we do? We learned that being right downtown is not a requirement for a successful business as people will travel to a quality destination. We are going to be incredibly aggressive in pursuing a lease that will allow us to survive months of very slow sales. We are reassured that if we offer an incredibly high quality gourmet wood-fired pizza and solid balanced flavorful beers and are 'family friendly' at an affordable price we will succeed. We also learned that word of mouth networking is more valuable than being the newest greatest fanciest place. We are hopeful to have an approval by July and if so will return promptly to observe the winter season and finalize leases. We opened bank accounts, found a good lawyer, found a realtor we got along with, and are ready to go pending immigration's approval.

    Let's see how it goes!
    Cheers,
    mic

  2. #2
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    Sounds all very good! And you are right in your observations e.g. re lean months. Occasionally places advertise 'till late' and it eventuates they might be dark and locked up for the night at 9.30 pm.

    Only problem I can see you want to open too far away

  3. #3
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    I think a new brewery is a good idea in Nelson as craft beer is appreciated here. However, do we really need another woodfired pizza place? I'm not sure. Have you thought about Blenheim? They don't have quite as much in the pizza department. I love woodfired pizza but it's not exactly hard to find here.

    I think Golden Bear is busy partially due to weather, Mapua is a tourist spot, and it is next to the village so it has a built in population that don't have to drive. Mapua has a craft beer pub in the village that serves gourmet pizzas. You stated that people will drive to an excellent location but you might be a bit hopeful there as locals tend to stay local. We do drive to our favourite places around the region but most of the time we frequent the businesses in our village and so do our friends and acquaintances. We do stop more often at places on or near the highway when travelling to town for various things. We often go for lunch when our children have sports events in town (Nelson, Richmond and Mot). People from Mot believe the drive to Nelson is sooo far and people from Nelson can be quite snooty about Motueka.
    Good luck to you. It sounds like an exciting time in your life and I look forward to stopping in and trying a pint at the new joint.

  4. #4
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    I was a bit surprised to not see anything about Marlborough/ Blenheim in your observations after reading it in the title of the thread? And I agree with kiwieagle, there is not really a pace to get a good pizza (for a good prize!) here in Blenheim, although I am not sure about the beer- part. There are quite a lot of restaurants around, lots of them, mainly the wineries, only open for lunch, and there are some places which are always pretty busy, others not so much in the winter time.

  5. #5
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    Not sure what happened here but I'm missing a paragraph about the Blenheim area. Anyways....

    After about 10 days in the Richmond to Motueka area we went to Blenheim via Renwick and then back via Picton on a Saturday. In Renwick traffic was much slower than we had experienced from our prior trips; most grape picking was finished and it seemed like the town was asleep. Blenheim on the other hand was busy. Lots of people out and about, plenty of campervans, restaurants all had decent amount of tables (around 1:30pm) and just a nice vibe to it. More importantly lots of new construction including the the auditorium downtown, new parking structure, several newer buildings on the main road, some renovations, etc. Whereas downtown Nelson has lots of 'for lease' signs Blenheim had relatively less. Blenheim also has way less shops than downtown Nelson and really seems like a town with good potential. We envisioned that if we could find a location near the new theater/auditorium going up on the mainroad with good parking Blenheim could be a very good location. The final point and a 100% personal point for us coming from drier Colorado is that crossing into the Marlborough region the hills go from green to brown. Both our previous trips in November and December saw a lot of rain and this trip despite being 'dry' saw four solid rainy days and seeing nice golden hills, remarkably drier air, and clearer more intense sunny skies was a big point for us. I know that Nelson/Blenheim try to outdo each other with hours of sunshine but just from looking at the land Blenheim must get substantially less rain.

    If anyone in any of these areas knows a good location available with 250-300 square meters please let me know. We are planning on heading back in July to observe in the true dead of winter and IF immigration has given us the green light we will finalize plans and sign a lease to get progress started so we can open in time for the holiday season. Exciting times!

    Cheers,
    Mic

  6. #6
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    Have you thought of doing this in another part of New Zealand where there is more consistent year-round traffic or are your hearts set on the tip of the SI?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heynekamp View Post
    Not sure what happened here but I'm missing a paragraph about the Blenheim area. Anyways....

    After about 10 days in the Richmond to Motueka area we went to Blenheim via Renwick and then back via Picton on a Saturday. In Renwick traffic was much slower than we had experienced from our prior trips; most grape picking was finished and it seemed like the town was asleep. Blenheim on the other hand was busy. Lots of people out and about, plenty of campervans, restaurants all had decent amount of tables (around 1:30pm) and just a nice vibe to it. More importantly lots of new construction including the the auditorium downtown, new parking structure, several newer buildings on the main road, some renovations, etc. Whereas downtown Nelson has lots of 'for lease' signs Blenheim had relatively less. Blenheim also has way less shops than downtown Nelson and really seems like a town with good potential. We envisioned that if we could find a location near the new theater/auditorium going up on the mainroad with good parking Blenheim could be a very good location. The final point and a 100% personal point for us coming from drier Colorado is that crossing into the Marlborough region the hills go from green to brown. Both our previous trips in November and December saw a lot of rain and this trip despite being 'dry' saw four solid rainy days and seeing nice golden hills, remarkably drier air, and clearer more intense sunny skies was a big point for us. I know that Nelson/Blenheim try to outdo each other with hours of sunshine but just from looking at the land Blenheim must get substantially less rain.

    If anyone in any of these areas knows a good location available with 250-300 square meters please let me know. We are planning on heading back in July to observe in the true dead of winter and IF immigration has given us the green light we will finalize plans and sign a lease to get progress started so we can open in time for the holiday season. Exciting times!

    Cheers,
    Mic
    Ah, that is the part I was looking for (about Blenheim in general...)!
    I am glad you are not here at the moment, we had a week of more or less solid rain now , much needed, though!

  8. #8
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    There is already a pizza/beer garden, right next door to the Renaissance brewery, in Blenheim. Pizzas are good, but pricy.

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...th_Island.html

    Personally I think Blenheim is a good location, there is a lot of people based around the wine industry, all of whom seem to enjoy beer. It takes a lot of beer to make good wine.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachcombers View Post
    There is already a pizza/beer garden, right next door to the Renaissance brewery, in Blenheim. Pizzas are good, but pricy.

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...th_Island.html

    Personally I think Blenheim is a good location, there is a lot of people based around the wine industry, all of whom seem to enjoy beer. It takes a lot of beer to make good wine.
    The place that you mention has changed owners' management.., have you had pizza there since then? I know that they advertise 'German' food, haven't tried it myself (an have no interest in it, to be honest!) but friends have and were not very impressed.....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dell View Post
    Have you thought of doing this in another part of New Zealand where there is more consistent year-round traffic or are your hearts set on the tip of the SI?
    We have looked at most of the country. If not on top of the SI we would look at Napier or the Bay of Plenty. We love the sun! Do you have suggestions we should consider? Thanks!

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