Dunedin's historic Captain Cook Tavern could close by the middle of this month.

James Arnott, one of the owners of Cook Brothers Bars, which sub-leases the building from DB Breweries and owns the Captain Cook Tavern trademark, said DB was last Friday given a notice by the building's owners asking for it to be vacated within 10 working days.

DB's lease ends two weeks later, on June 29.

It would take a closer look at the notice and what it meant over the ''next couple of days'', Mr Arnott said yesterday.


Gregory Paterson, one of three directors of Orari Street Properties Investments Ltd which owns the building, declined to comment about the notice, saying it was a ''complicated legal'' matter.

Speaking before the Otago Daily Times was told about the notice, Mr Paterson said the company was yet to find someone to take over the pub when DB Breweries' lease ran out.

The pub, founded in 1860, would probably close - at least in the short term - when the lease expired, but Orari Street Properties Investment would continue to look for someone to take it over, he said.

''The directors are all Dunedin people and we are trying to do the right thing with the Cook. We are trying to save it.

''We are trying to do the right thing, but if we can't do the right thing it's a fantastic development site,'' he said.

The directors would look at carrying out overdue renovations if no-one offered to take over the business right away.

Asked about the chances of saving the pub, he said he could not comment.

''I would very much like to think a hotel could carry on on the spot''. Mr Arnott said no special plans to see off the Cook had been arranged as yet, but he imagined there would be ''some sort of party''.

He was not surprised the building's owners had failed to find someone to take over the bar. A change in drinking culture - students drinking less often and buying most of their alcohol from off-licences - had drastically reduced its turnover.

If someone was keen to take it over, Cook Brothers Bars would be open to selling the Captain Cook Tavern trademark.