Auckland foodies get an expanded multimillion-dollar dining precinct from today when four out of six new restaurants open in a suburban shopping mall.
And the two that aren't quite ready are expected to be open by Christmas.
NZX-listed landlord Kiwi Property will this morning officially open The Grove, its new $8.9 million dining lane at Sylvia Park, Mt Wellington.
The new food offerings, a new town square, landscaping, dining pavilion and automatic canopy are part of that project on the ground floor of an $80 million, 10-level office block Kiwi is developing at the mall, where it has $200m expansion plans, including a new Farmers department store.
The new restaurants join the existing line-up of eateries, which have been operating for some years.
Read more: New food precinct coming to Sylvia Park
Grove diners will be sheltered by a 50m-long Teflon-coated canopy that automatically unfolds at the first spots of rain.
The six new outlets in The Grove are:
• 1. Hawker & Roll: "A spin-off eatery from Josh Emett and Fleur Caulton's Madam Woo, specialising in Malaysian street or hawker food," Kiwi said. Now open.
• 2. Birdie's Bar and Deli, "an industrial, New York-style deli, serving an extensive selection of coffee, food and drinks with a focus on small plates and generous portions." Now open.
• 3. Mexico: "Wall-to-ceiling art, bright, clashing colours and clever details create an energetic atmosphere, inspired by the streets of Mexico." Now open.
• 4. Better Burger: "Delivering premium quality, fresh, flavoursome eats at fast-food prices, featuring Pukekohe potatoes and onions, New Zealand grass-fed beef and just-baked breads." Now open.
• 5. Cleaver & Co, opening soon: "Renowned for authentic BBQ meat cuisine, with a loyal following out west. Ribs, brisket, lamb shoulder, a buffalo wing menu and a range of burgers."
• 6. The Little District, opening soon: "Relaxed spaces where customers can enjoy items from three specialty outlets serving a combined menu, considered the first micro-precinct of its type in Auckland." The outlets are Municipal Coffee Company, Parklane Bar and Dispensary and Market Square Kitchen.
Other restaurants already in the dining area include Wagamama, Casablanca and The Coffee Club.
Aubrey Cheng, Kiwi's leasing manager, said Mexico and Better Burger had been open for some weeks while Hawker & Roll and Birdie's Bar and Deli had only opened in the past few days.
"We had a very defined target mix and a vision. We wanted to move away from the stereotypical mainstream," Cheng said, expressing delight in the physical appearance of the dining lane.
New restaurant leases were long at between six and 10 years and tenants had spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on fitouts, all designed by their own architects, Cheng said.
Chris Gudgeon, Kiwi chief executive, said: "We have wanted to make this a new destination for food at Sylvia Park, partially to drive new patronage but also as an amenity for existing shoppers - they come to the movies and eat before and after. This is part of our vision for Sylvia Park as a new town centre and a community.
However the expansion was no response to Amazon opening in Melbourne, Gudgeon stressed: "We're in a world where you have bricks and mortar and online and they're very complementary. Retailers say their bricks and mortar presence is absolutely critical. But in the world of retailing, you have both so there are omni-channels."
The Pod is a new multi-purpose performance area, inspired by an unfolding mangrove seed and that is out the front of The Grove. All of the structure's sides open to reveal a 5m by 3m stage.
This weekend, entertainment is planned for the area, including performances from Jackie Clark, Heart & Soul Band, Geoff Ong, Anthony Utama and Max Earnshaw. A schedule of performances is available here.
Other developers also have big plans for more Auckland restaurants.
Precinct Properties' new Commercial Bay, now under construction, will also have a lineup of new restaurants, bars and dining areas. It has already announced Saxon + Parole and the Harbour Eats food court and last week confirmed that Josh Emett, Al Brown, and Mimi Gilmour would open "concepts" in Commercial Bay in 2019.
Commercial Bay, the $850m project which Precinct says is "the most transformational project Auckland CBD has ever seen", will be the city's biggest new office tower and shopping centre.
Zoltan Moricz and others at CBRE Research in Auckland yesterday predicted $200m extra retail spending from the America's Cup in 2021, mainly in the food and beverage sector.