After being closed since just before lockdown, Whanganui's Lucky Bar + Kitchen is almost ready to open under new ownership.
New owner Andrew Rennie moved from Auckland to Whanganui five years ago and began working in property management but said he desperately wanted a change.
In Auckland, he acquired his bar managers' licence when managing a hotel.
With no luck finding a new job he saw the bar advertised and decided to sell his house so he could purchase it.
Two days later New Zealand entered Covid-19 alert level 4 and Rennie and his new bar were forced into lockdown.
"At first I was just going to keep it on as property management but then lockdown happened and thought it was a perfect time for a complete re-do," he said.
Rennie said the bar had completely changed.
The exterior and interior have both been repainted and the deck has been extended to 120 sq m.
There is now a vertical garden at one end and they have put blinds up and purple squabs at the bar.
"With the outside, at first it was just about making it more functional and then inside I had a vibe in mind but then we were limited to what we could buy during the lockdown so it kind of changed along the way so it's still kind of a collective like what they had but it's probably a little bit more upmarket."
Rennie said they were not finished with renovations and therefore could not open when all other bars did under level 2 restrictions on May 21.
He now hopes to open on June 8 serving food but is still in discussions with council around liquor licensing.
As for future live performances, he said they have comedian Ben Hurley booked for July 25 and have been approached by a group of local bands to perform a benefit concert for the bar.
But he said they will wait until there is no longer a 100 person limit in bars for this to go ahead.
"We will still be having bands but not quite as much, but yeah, we want to open the stage up to all the arts, make it more of like a Whanganui event centre."
He hopes to get more comedy and dance acts and host more open mic nights.
Rennie said so far he was loving it and has a lot of big plans for the bar which are still top secret.
"I basically want to take what Lucky was, still keep it the same, inclusive to everyone and really expand on that and hopefully it turns into a much bigger venue so then we're not limited by our capacity and then we can get much bigger names like Six60 and stuff like that.
"For the Whanganui community, instead of always having to travel to Auckland and Wellington why can't Whanganui be a venue"