The Mosgiel Memorial RSA has announced it will close its restaurant and bar, given dwindling membership, and amid tough trading pressures for RSA hospitality operations elsewhere in the country.

MMRSA chair Peter Amyes said the closure of the hospitality arm was a proactive, managed exit, and not a receivership or liquidation situation.

The move reflected higher operating costs, and tougher trading conditions rendering the club's commercial operation unsustainable.

"Despite numerous initiatives and exhaustive efforts, the financial reality is that its not in the best interests of our membership to continue as we are," Major Amyes said.


Staff and key stakeholders had been advised, and had also been encouraged to participate in an upcoming consultation process to determine the MMRSAs future direction.

Like many not-for-profits, MMRSA had also been particularly hard hit by the escalating costs of running the commercial operation, with the likes of insurance, electricity and rates all skyrocketing, while turnover from hospitality had decreased.

"It's no secret the going is very tough for RSAs nationwide.

"We have faced a confluence of increasing challenges fewer members, an ageing membership and younger peoples changing patterns around socialising, to name but a few," he said.

The move to close the restaurant and bar comes only four years after the completion of a $1.2 million redevelopment of the Mosgiel RSA complex in Church St which aimed to replace the previous "beer barn'' look with a brighter, more modern and livelier cafe-style approach, including a modern restaurant.

Much better, climate-controlled conditions were also provided for the Mosgiel RSA's sizeable collection of wartime memorabilia, some of it dating from the Boer War.

Major Ames said the Mosgiel RSA had taken up the overall challenges in various ways, and "we did make headway we just couldn't sustain enough traction in what is an entirely different era and market than when RSAs first opened bars and restaurants."

The restaurant would close on May 11, while the bar had reverted to its winter hours earlier than usual, operating from Wednesday to Saturday, before also permanently closing at the end of June.


An information evening for members would be held on May 13, with a series of members consultation meetings scheduled for May 22, 23 and 29.

Feedback would then be collated and considered by the board, before being fed back to the members, who would vote on their preference.

"We need to now go back to our members and seek their feedback on how we can best serve their needs, in terms of our core function of welfare and wider support."

Major Amyes said, while redundancies among the 12 employees were "likely inevitable", final decisions could not be made until staff, members and key stakeholders had been consulted on the club's future direction.

"Sadly, the writing is on the wall for the restaurant and bar, and we are facing, and dealing with, that reality.

"We can't, however, and won't, make any final decisions until we've heard from our people and teased out their ideas for what the future could look like."

"While the hospitality side of the RSA grew over the earlier decades, its been becoming harder and harder to sustain in recent years and we must remember that the heart of our purpose remains providing support services for our serving and returned military.

He paid tribute to both the staff and members, past and present.

"You can't work at a place like an RSA and just be staff our current team, and those who've come before them, have been so much more throughout the years. They've brought not just skills and dedication, but have been the warm welcome, friendly ear and companionship to our members.

"I have made a personal undertaking, on behalf of the board, that each has our full support, and we will be doing everything we can to help them through this." Major Amyes also acknowledged the members, especially those who had, over the years, devoted hours upon hours to the MMRSA, which was established 73 years ago.

"As membership numbers have continued to decrease markedly, as well as hitting our financial viability, its also meant fewer and fewer volunteers to fill vital roles on committees and to keep the growth initiatives going.

"We even struggled to find volunteers for this years Poppy Day, which, I think is fair to say, is a Kiwi institution."

Major Amyes said another key priority was the MMRSAs memorabilia collection, which was of national significance.

"We're already working on what's best to happen with these incredible wartime artefacts to ensure they're both protected and suitably showcased to the wider public," he said.