The driving force behind a new mega-venue bar in the heart of Auckland is undeterred by a downturn in consumer confidence.
"We've still got to live and if you give them good value, they'll be back," said Auckland hospitality veteran Luke Dallow.
Sale St, which opens this weekend, is Dallow's latest venture. The 800-capacity venue marks a resurgence of the big bar concept, following the success of David Henderson's SOL Square in Christchurch, and more recently, the 1500sq m Temperance in Wellington.
Dallow is undeterred by the timing. Demand remains strong, he said, with trade up 23 per cent at his Ponsonby Rd venture, Chapel.
And he expects Sale St - which has cost "between $1 and $5 million" - to break even within 18 months.
The site of what was originally a brewery and previously the head office of wine and spirit merchants Glengarry Hancocks, the 1000sq m venue houses a daytime cafe, microbrewery and a cluster of bars.
Neighbouring the likes of La Zeppa, Clooneys and the multi-venue development Rhubarb Lane, Dallow is hoping Sale St will help transform the Victoria Quadrant area into a new entertainment precinct.
Dallow's latest venture saw him collaborate with DB Breweries' concept development team, which travels the world scoping out emerging trends to introduce locally.
For Sale St, the team went to Perth before taking in similar concepts in places such as Las Vegas and Dublin. Grant Caunter, DB's national concept development manager, said Perth does the big bar concept well, and much of Sale St was modelled on the city's Little Creatures venue.
Caunter said while the economy may be in a downturn, people will still want to go out and enjoy themselves. But in a slowdown, the trend for consumers is to drink closer to home, and to look for value when they go out.
There was also a need to provide a point-of-difference, such as Sale St's microbrewery, which will produce unique brews created by DB's own brewers.