High profile restaurant owner Leo Molloy has caused a stir describing rival restaurants as hangouts for "old white people", "girls with flappy lips" and "young mums in active wear with screaming babies".

The owner of popular Auckland pop-up venue HeadQuarters posted the lengthy description on his restaurant's Facebook after its nomination in hospitality awards The Lewishams.

The post, to encourage patrons to vote in the awards, mentioned Soul Bar, Prego and Apero on K'Rd - which were also nominated for the Outstanding Establishment award.

"The other nominees are Soul, that place where the old white people hang out with girls with flappy lips, sugar daddies, & car salesmen, some sugar daddies who are car salesmen, where they still serve salt and pepper squid with curry sauce, then there's Prego, that's that nursery for young mums in active wear with screaming babies in Ponsonby," Molloy said in the post.

Prego patrons were described by Molloy as mums in active wear with screaming babies. Photo / Steve McNicoll
Prego patrons were described by Molloy as mums in active wear with screaming babies. Photo / Steve McNicoll

Without naming it he described K'Rd eatery Apero as a place involving 'failed comedians trying their luck as food critics, Ponsonby politicians, along with lots of needles and drugs."

Replies to the post varied from support for Molloy's comments describing him as "a national treasure" to another describing the post as evidence "anyone over the age of 40 should have a licence to use social media".

Over the phone to the Herald Molloy said the post was made to "get people talking and voting" and was "just a bit of a wind-up, a piss-take".

"You can tell that it is just a joke, it's a wind-up. You can tell by the title of my acceptance speech: no f**ks will be given."

Asked to describe the clientele at HeadQuarters, Molloy was a bit kinder than that of his rivals.

"We are Auckland, we penetrate every sector of society, we don't judge anyone unless they are behaving badly or intimidating.

"Whatever you want in the Viaduct precinct we should be able to offer it - apart from quiet and intimacy."

He said the bar would soon boast an area for over 36-year-olds and a whiskey bar.


Prego general manager Brandon Lela'ulu laughed when asked if he was offended by Molloy's post.

He said at least 10 people had sent it to him that morning.

Lela'ulu said restaurant staff had not taken the comments seriously and didn't think there was any malice intended.

As for mums in active wear, Lea'ulu said the clientele was a good mix from the community and afar.

"We have everyone from the community in here, depending on what time of day you come in. We haven't seen Leo in here though."

"I'm not sure where he is getting his information from."


In 2016 Prego made headlines after young diners were warned to mind their manners
and that running, rolling around on the ground, jumping on furniture and playing in bathrooms were not appropriate behaviour.

Just last week Molloy was in the news for his response to a customer who was concerned plastic confetti left on a table by visitors to the restaurant would blow into the harbour.

Last year Molloy, a former champion jockey, branded a group of league fans "mongrel scum and vandals" and described league as a "bogan game" after fans damaged a photo wall.