The Strand no longer easy street

By Kiri Gillespie

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Despite a new waterfront area, beautiful weather and a major rebuild of a key building, bars and restaurants on The Strand say business is not what it used to be.

De Bier Haus duty manager Sarah Baxter said February had been notably quieter compared to last year, "but I've been looking around [other places on The Strand] and they are the same". Ms Baxter said some regulars had been staying home more after over-spending at Christmas.

Amphora on The Strand manager Lisa Schoonbeek said trade at the restaurant had been "steady".

"But a lot of people remember the days five years ago when the bars and restaurants were always full. You don't get that any more," she said.

"There are more places open. At the Mount, Papamoa, people are more parochial and seem to want to stay in their own area.

"Then there's the whole drink driving thing.

"You certainly aren't going to get the big crowds like it used to be," she said.

Zaggers 2, in the former Horny Bull building, has only been open a few months but owner Wendy Treacey said it had been "a bit quiet".

"I don't know if it's the lovely weather and everyone's off doing things at the beach but it has been relatively quiet ... we are starting to pick up."

The Phoenix restaurant manager Michael Wilson said the quieter season was a shame.

The business opened late last year and had initially bucked the trend by being constantly busy.

Mr Wilson said he felt the novelty of being new had worn off. They had already established some regulars.

However, he said some Friday and Saturday nights were definitely quiet for The Strand.

"New kid on the block" Brooklyn Patio and Eatery owner Dean Teddy said things were not dire but "it's just missing that vibe".

"I think it's been unbelievably quiet. Tauranga needs to be educated in coming out and enjoying life a bit more, instead of sitting at home. Use it or lose it."

At Mount Maunganui, Imbibe co-owner Graham Everest said business was "all over the show".

Mr Everest said he did a regular drive-by of other establishments and "it's very clear it's up and down for everybody".

"There's no way I'd say anyone is really smoking it."

Latitude 37 owner Graeme Bastin said they were getting bookings of 100 people for Saturday nights and things were steady, particularly with custom from cruise ship passengers.

"We're definitely not in a slump," he said.

In Papamoa, Rain Gastro Bar duty manager Keri Harman said they were fortunate with holiday parks being busy.

"January was huge for us, probably one of the biggest we've had for a while."

Meanwhile, Steakout Restaurant on The Strand closed last week.

When approached by the Bay of Plenty Times, the owner said he was unable to comment on the matter at present.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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