Superstar chef Jamie Oliver is coming to New Zealand - and he's chosen Wellington as the site of his new Italian restaurant.
Following years of speculation, it's been confirmed today that Oliver wants the Public Trust building on Lambton Quay and Stout St for his new restaurant.
Jamie Oliver wants the Public Trust building on Lambton Quay and Stout St in Wellington for his new restaurant. Photo / Mark Mitchell
McKee Fehl construction company is renovating the 107 year-old building.
Building owner and McKee Fehl managing director Maurice Clark said the restaurant would help create a "new hub" of activity in the area, which was home to many private and public sector offices but few restaurants.
Strengthening and repair work was due to finish late this year, after which tenants would take over the building, the Wellingtonian newspaper reported.
In late 2013, Oliver rejected SkyCity casino's dining precinct in Auckland as his restaurant location because he did not want to be associated with gambling.
According to Te Ara, the Public Trust Building was the only surviving building made of a true New Zealand granite. Forty years ago wreckers threatened to tear down the building but a 1975 campaign saved it from demolition.
Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown said she was delighted the popular chef chose the capital and she expected the restaurant to open early next year.
"I'm very excited and I'm very hungry," Ms Wade-Brown said today.
She said extensive earthquake-strengthening work was happening on the Public Trust building and that work would probably be completed within 12 months.
The mayor said she believed Mr Oliver chose Wellington because the city had a strong culinary culture and the hospitality industry was known for using quality local ingredients in restaurant dishes.