After 40 years and three locations - the original fondly known as "the hole in the wall" - one of the characters of Whangarei's central business scene is shutting up shop.

When restaurant and bar Reva's on the Waterfront closes at the end of March it will be the end of an era, but owner Reva Meredith said she is confident a new watering hole and eatery planned for the marina-side location will do a fantastic job.

Ms Meredith and her husband Doug held the Whangarei District Council (WDC) lease on "the best spot in town" for 20 years, moving there in 1995 when the Town Basin makeover was complete. Not only was the space much bigger for local patrons than the two preceding funky but often cramped pizzerias, Ms Meredith was able to build on another significant clientele - yacht people from all over the world; generations of yachties having berthed at the Town Basin long before it became Whangarei's showcase precinct.

"We were the face of the Town Basin," Ms Meredith said. "We were the only place open at night for years, we had jam nights, shows, themed nights. We were right there for all those yachties, we became a destination and were known internationally because of that marina clientele."


The lease ran out in September with the council since renewing it monthly while calling for applications from potential tenants with business plans in keeping with the Town Basin's rejuvenation and future. Mr Meredith has been disabled since a severe stroke last year but Ms Meredith and one of her sons were among four groups putting a lease-proposal forward. The successful applicant was Lloyd Rooney who has owned The Cove cafe and bar at Waipu since 2014. He and the matriarch of the Town Basin have met, got on well, and she said she wishes him all the best.

"I'm not leaving because we didn't get on with the council, we've always had a very good relationship and I understand them looking for a business here with a new direction," Ms Meredith said.

"Nobody owes me anything, it's just life, it happens. But this has been my life and I just feel sad. I'm not going to get all sour-grapes about it though, and I'd love people to come by ... I'd like them to come say goodbye."

Ms Meredith said that some time in the future she might consider opening another small, intimate pizzeria along the lines of her original one.

Mr Rooney and the council have a refit to do before he gets stuck into the decor; "a fresher look", drawing on his former career as an interior designer. He hopes to open The Quay in July.

"I'm very conscious of how well-known and much-loved Reva is. It's always difficult when someone is moving on, and taking over from Reva is a hard act to follow," he said.