Property editor of the NZ Herald

What's happened to Jamie Oliver's Auckland plans?

Will Jamie Oliver open in New Zealand?
Will Jamie Oliver open in New Zealand?

Will speculation about superstar chef Jamie Oliver possibly coming to Auckland ever prove true?

Not so far, it seems, particularly after news this week that he would not be opening in Wellington after all.

Landlord Maurice Clark said Jamie's Italian would not be opening in the capital's Old Public Trust building on Lambton Quay.

Last year, speculation was that the British culinary expert, TV star and anti-childhood obesity campaigner was not only keen to open in Wellington but had also picked an Auckland property: Queen's Rise in the ex-BNZ building at 125 Queen St.

Last April, Oliver was reported as saying he would open a branch in Auckland in 2016 but he was said to be "tight-lipped" about the location.

An insider with close links to the food sector said Oliver would open Jamie's Italian in the long-vacant Queen St space.

Leah La Hood of Bayleys, who was then leasing Queen's Rise, could not say at the time whether a deal with Oliver had been struck.

"We do have a lease signed for an international restaurant downstairs but it does have a confidentiality clause," she said at the time.

Today, La Hood - no longer with Bayleys but with another business - said she understood the international restaurant deal had not signed after all.

"It didn't go ahead. I was working on it then. But the lease was not done through me," she said.

Colliers International's Chloe Franklin-Hall and Nilesh Patel are now leasing Queens Rise and Franklin-Hall said this morning she had also heard last year that Oliver might be coming to Auckland.

"It was floating around," she said.

Now, she said all that had died away and no space in 125 Queen was leased to the popular Brit.

"Unfortunately not. It's definitely not true. I have heard nothing that they're even looking around now," she said.

However, Colliers is looking for a major restaurant brand for Queens Rise but has not found one yet.

Marketing information explained more: "We are looking for a wide range of high-end operators - rather than national chains - looking to be a part of a premium dining experience venue that is set to become the new social centre in the heart of Auckland city," Patel says.

"This one-of-a-kind dining experience, open from breakfast through to dinner, will include both in tenancy and shared seating and facilities to encourage diners to mingle while enjoying a range of options and cuisines suitable for all tastes and preferences - similar to Pitt St Mall in Sydney.

"There are no competing projects like this in Auckland Central."

Web site www.jamieoliver.com says: "I can't wait to open our first restaurant in New Zealand. We've been looking for the perfect site for a long time now and I really feel that we've found it in Wellington. Jamie's Italian is the perfect place to bring the family and get stuck in to some fantastic food and right now we're looking for amazing suppliers, something I'm sure we're not going to be short of in New Zealand!"

- NZ Herald

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