New Orleans’ new broom

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New owners taking over Arrowtown’s New Orleans Hotel this coming Monday vow to clean up its reputation.

Local couple Kerry and Rob Andrews and Auckland publican Paul Lomax are buying the lease of the 152-year-old pub from Christchurch-based Peter Whittaker.

Whittaker’s business has been stung for six breaches of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act since he took over in 2011.

Four involved selling alcohol to minors, the latest causing Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority Judge Kevin Kelly, recently, to dub New Orleans a “problem premises”.

Kerry Andrews says: “We want to put a lot of time and love into it because I don’t think it’s seen any love for a while, bless it.

“I don’t know any families that would go in there and go for dinner – we want to change that reputation so that everyone feels welcome, step up the food menu and change it all up.”

She says they’re planning major structural changes which, at earliest, will take place after winter.

She’d like to see New Orleans become “a good Kiwi sports bar” with a family-friendly environment.

Kerry admits they’re even considering a name change for the upstairs bar/restaurant, which, if it happened, would coincide with the refurb.

She says the sale, brokered by Ray White Arrowtown agents Richard Newman and Todd Weeks, arose after their friend Lomax, who owns popular Auckland CBD bar/restaurant Pilkingtons, “was looking at purchasing something down here, he wanted to involve some locals, and we were looking for a change”.

Whittaker says the sole reason for selling is because he’s busy running three Christchurch bars, and also has young family there.

Told the new owners want to lift New Orleans’ reputation, he says: “We have a good reputation with all our locals there – we run a reasonably busy pub, it goes reasonably well.”

He denies its reputation’s been sullied by the bar’s licensing ordeals, which have resulted in at least three suspensions of trading.

“No one’s ever found an under-age person drinking there illegally except when police have put these bloody stings on.

“They send in young people that look like experienced drinkers.”

After the latest sting, last September, Judge Kelly imposed what Whittaker calls “an absolutely draconian” 10-day suspension.

Despite selling the pub, he intends appealing it in the High Court “in the interests of justice”.

scoop@scene.co.nz