Tauranga eateries are taking off with new restaurants opening in the CBD, Tauriko, Pāpāmoa and Mount Maunganui in what people in the industry are calling a hospitality boom.
Eighteen new restaurants will open as part of the final stage of the new Tauranga Crossing mall, which is expected to open in April.
The two-level dining area within the mall will be by the new Event Cinemas complex.
The upper level, known as The Observatory, will include a new Malaysian-inspired Hawker and Roll restaurant, opened by restaurateur Fleur Caulton and chef Josh Emett, and the first Bird on a Wire outside of Auckland.
Chief executive Steve Lewis said the level of interest shown in both the city and Tauranga Crossing by hospitality businesses reflected the confidence the wider market had in the region.
"Food and entertainment is becoming an increasingly important part of the experience customers are seeking, and this eclectic and vibrant mix of restaurants and eateries is going to add a new dimension to the centre and Tauranga in general."
Once the next section of the mall opens, the 45,000sq m shopping complex will house a total 27 restaurants and eateries.
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said hospitality was a competitive and growing market.
"The population for Tauranga and the general area is increasing," he said. "It is only natural we get more and more hospitality businesses."
Sciascia said it was not difficult to start a hospitality business.
"All it needs is a dream and some money, and everyone has dreams and access to money," he said.
"The challenge is to create an offering that customers want and will continue to use."
He said there was not much difference in restaurants and eateries operating in a shopping mall or on the street.
"There is a lot of businesses established in The Strand and at the Mount, they all tend to develop in a similar space, which is where people want to be," he said.
"Having it in a mall is no different. The mall becomes a destination."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief Stan Gregec said new eateries in Tauranga meant residents had greater choice and convenience in dining.
"It means you can find a great selection of eateries virtually on your doorstep, wherever you happen to live in Tauranga. That can only be a good thing – for everyone."
Gregec said with the variety of choice available, hospitality businesses needed to be more competitive than ever and were now able to cater more to niche markets and tastes.
"It also means that places like The Strand have some exciting opportunities too," he said.
"With all the waterfront improvements we've seen in the last couple of years, downtown is still an attractive magnet for people to make the trip into town."
Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said Tauranga had experienced strong population growth in the past five years, which was largely due to the "enviable lifestyle" and the unprecedented business growth that had led to new jobs being created.
"This growth has underpinned both the expansion of the hospitality industry as well as the retail sector," she said.
Hill said having a range of dining experiences was good for the city.
"It's also great to have a wide range of different styles of cuisine to meet our increasingly sophisticated tastes and expectations of living in a contemporary city like Tauranga."
On completion in late 2019, Bayfair Shopping Centre's $115 million redevelopment will include more than 23 dining options.
Bayfair's centre manager, Steve Ellingford, said the Bay had seen considerable growth and new restaurants meant more variety.
"Our purpose-driven development will provide greater choice for people in the region, attracting a number of popular and unique dining and entertainment options new to the Bay of Plenty," he said.
Ellingford said the influx of people from other regions, particularly Auckland, and "seasonal surges" in tourism had brought a demand for more dining options of a "cosmopolitan and metropolitan" standard.
"Tauranga is steadily stepping up its game," he said.
Our Place and Clarence Tauranga, which opened in the Old Post Office building on Willow St, have also opened in the CBD.
'MORE GROWTH TO COME'
Luke Van Veen has seven years' experience in the hospitality industry.
The 26-year-old, who owns newly opened Papa Mo's in Pāpāmoa's Excelsa Centre, said hospitality was booming in the Bay of Plenty.
"You look at hospitality as a whole in the Bay of Plenty at the moment and it is booming," he said. "This region has probably the most new venues and food outlets showing up."
Van Veen said Pāpāmoa's population had seen huge growth in the past four years, particularly in the Te Tumu and Golden Sands area.
"There is still huge growth to come in the next five years," he said.
Van Veen said more commercial builds in Pāpāmoa meant the community did not have to drive elsewhere for a movie, dinner or drink.
However, he said the new businesses meant more competition.
"Hospitality is very competitive. It is an industry that is very hard sometimes, but very rewarding. You get one chance to please a customer."
The Papa Mo's owner said hospitality had changed "dramatically" in the past five years.
"Before my time it was recognised as a liquor-led industry, whereas now there is a bigger emphasis on food and the dining experience as a whole."
TAURANGA CROSSING'S NEW EATERIES OPENING 2019
- Hawker & Roll
- Bird on a Wire
- Cantina de Mad Mex
- Ramen IPPIN
- Epiphany Cafe
- Krung Thep Thai Street Food
- Happy Valley
- Hello Sushi
- Barrio Brothers Express
- Kiwi Grill
- Tank Juice Bar
Within the enclosed mall:
- Jamaica Blue
- Muffin Break
- Boost Juice