Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

RWC: Bars race to obtain last minute licences

The Kingslander bar has applied for three licence changes during the Rugby World Cup. Photo / Herald on Sunday
The Kingslander bar has applied for three licence changes during the Rugby World Cup. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Bars and restaurants will stay open longer and in some cases punters will spill into temporary marquees as special licences are granted for the Rugby World Cup.

Yesterday a Rugby World Cup "enabling" authority established by Auckland Council published notices for three urgent liquor licence applications - including one for the controversial Piha Cafe. The authority has so far received applications to fast-track 11 liquor licences.

More than 50 other businesses have opted to use existing - and cheaper - council frameworks to capitalise on the tournament.

While most are near Eden Park, Piha Cafe has asked for a liquor licence from 11am to 7pm during the tournament.

Kath Dewar, of Protect Piha Heritage, which opposed the cafe two years ago, said the licence would be a "significant change" for the community.

"As we all know, things that are temporary can quite often become permanent. And our position is that people need to have the time to have their say."

Ms Dewar said that with objections due by next Monday, that would not be possible.

But cafe owner Pete Dillon, who bought the cafe two months ago, said feedback "overwhelmingly" showed locals wanted the option of a glass of wine or beer with their food. Although many groups would be coming to the cafe during the Cup, games would not be shown and the cafe would be shut by 7pm.

The owners of Ginger Minx and The Dominion bars near Eden Park have applied to set up a temporary gastro bar marquee in a neighbouring carpark on match days.

Co-owner John Hellebrekers said the marquee was given a test-run during Saturday's Bledisloe Cup match and proved hugely popular.

He said the $2800 cost of fast-tracking a licence for the Cup was too high, but he hoped it would pay off.

Paul Radich, who oversees council licensing for the tournament, said the "prohibitive" cost of applications meant 52 businesses had instead opted to apply for special licences. Special licences are granted for one-off events through a normal council framework and cost only $65 - but simply screening the rugby was not enough to get one.

"You actually need to have something like a guest speaker, or a themed dinner, or be charging tickets."

The Kingslander bar has applied for three changes during the Cup; an extension of trading hours up to 3am, a temporary bar in a carpark next to the building, and another bar in its driveway. The new areas were set up for the Bledisloe test and general manager Tom Pedlar said the buzz around the bar was fantastic.

Council-controlled company Auckland 2011 has lodged applications for liquor licences at Queens Wharf and other fan zones.

Chairwoman Rachael Dacy said more flexible liquor licensing would add to atmosphere at the tournament.

"We'll be driving a whole bunch of people into the CBD, and down to Queens Wharf, and we fully believe that the neighbouring restaurants and bars will really capitalise on the foot traffic."

- NZ Herald

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