An event company only just bouncing back from the Covid-19 hospitality recession has been left heartbroken after their stunning prized mobile cocktail bar was stolen.
The founder of drinks catering company Black Pineapple, who operates a custom-made purpose-built travelling cocktail bar, returned to work on Monday to discover thieves had stolen the mobile bar and trailer they rely on for a large chunk of their income.
The mobile bar, which comes with five themed panels, including a tiki, vintage wedding and gold pineapple among others, is hugely popular at weddings, corporate events and parties around Auckland.
The theft is another "kick in the nuts" for Black Pineapple after they went from 500 per cent growth in early 2020 to 0 per cent revenue during New Zealand's Covid lockdowns.
Now their recovery has been dealt another blow following the theft.
"It's a massive deal for us to lose this. It's a cool bit of kit. It took months for us to build, design and a lot of love went into it," Black Pineapple founder Frankie Walker said.
"It's really central to what we do, people book us out because we have an epic set-up, it elevates the events we do. My heart sank. That's about $60,000 worth of equipment gone.
"It would be gutting if someone stole it knowing what was in the trailer. It's a pretty s**t start to the year after being kicked in the nuts by Covid-19.
"We went from 500 per cent growth to 0 per cent revenue in 10 days when Covid lockdown hit.
"Because we provide goods for events, what we do was essentially illegal over lockdown. You weren't allowed to gather. We lost $250,000 revenue in 10 days and had nothing coming through the door. That's been a long road to recovery."
Police confirmed the prized bar and trailer were stolen from the company's premises in Kingsland over the weekend.
Walker told the Herald the security locks had been smashed in and the burglars came armed with the appropriate tools to complete the job before towing the trailer with the bar inside.
The company was decimated during lockdown and had to take out loans
in order to pay staff, keep their lease and continue to keep the company afloat.
Now they face an uphill battle to keep clients who specifically requested the use of the themed mobile cocktail bar.
Walker said the theft will put them back months, especially after only just recovering from the Covid-19 fallout, and could see some clients walk out the door.
"We've got multiple bookings for this bar in particular. We can change the panel at the front for each event. It's designed for any event. We've got weddings, celebrations, corporate events who have already booked the bar. It means we have to go back to people and disappoint customers.
"That's the tipping point for them. They see the bar and go 'wow, we want that'. It jeopardises revenue, costs us money and lets down customers.
"Realistically it's going to take a couple of months to rebuild and replicate. It's high end. It's not something you can get off the shelf. It's another setback for an already vulnerable business and sector.
"The people out there that stole it probably think 'they're insured, it's a victimless crime'. That bar and the trailer, that's nine months of revenue and hard f***ing work that the whole team put in.
"It's real scummy someone would line us up and come with the tools and smash through our security locks and steal something we've worked hard for right in front of our eyes.
"If someone has taken it, the only thing they can do is use it at home.
"To get it remade, it would take months and cost a lot. Even the trailer is custom-made.
"The events industry has had a massive kick in the nuts with Covid, and now we've been kicked in the balls again."
VEHICLES OF INTEREST AND REWARD
Walker is desperate to be reunited with his bar and trailer and says commercial partner Bacardi has offered a generous reward for its return.
After looking at CCTV footage, Walker now knows the trailer was stolen on January 11, between 2am and 3.10am at 2 Kingsland Terrace.
There are two vehicles of interest - a lookout vehicle, which is white, and a silver vehicle that towed the trailer away.
Walker has asked businesses around the Kingsland and Morningside area if they noticed any activity on their cameras between 2am and 3.30am on Monday, January 11 to get in touch.
He has asked whoever took it to please leave it on the side of the road, no questions asked, in a bid to save the business from further struggles.
Police told the Herald they are following up the incident and has sent forensics to the scene.
"Police are making inquiries into the incident and the scene has been attended by a forensics officer," a spokesperson said.
"Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 105 quoting file number 210111/7454 or you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."