Graze becomes The Hayes

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New owners of a suburban bistro are not just business partners but also neighbours and best buds.

Hubby and wife duo Brad and Jackie Rule have teamed up with Erica and Mark Latham to buy The Hayes, formerly Graze, in Lake Hayes Estate.

The restaurant, which initially opened in 2014 after a big bucks build, served up 260 meals on Sunday.

Jackie describes day one as “crazy busy – but good busy”.

She admits a few hiccups and says turning folk away was disappointing.

They’ve head-hunted chef Richard Murray, who’s no newbie to the Queenstown food scene.

Mark says he’ll have full control of the kitchen, staff and day-to-day costs.

“We really wanted him on board. We see him as a key asset for us and part of the team.”

They also inherited a bunch of staffers and further full-time positions, which currently sit at 15, haven’t been ruled out. The owners will play different roles – but none plan on leaving their day jobs.

Mark and Erica, who also own Southern Hospitality, will be the face of it.

Jackie is in charge of sums and Brad carried out renovation work before opening.

“I am The Hayes’ beer taster – quality control,” he laughs.

He says both couples are on the same page. They want it to be a community hub. They’ve a few ideas including a touch rugby comp, quiz nights and a fashion show – with proceeds going to Shotover Primary.

The restaurant, pub and deli is changing tack.

Mark says pricey home-made creams, craft beers and artisan breads have been ditched – replaced with Speight’s on tap, Emerson’s beer and $1.50 popsicles. He reckons it is what locals want.

The four bought the business from Jana and Hamish MacPherson who took on the build and management of Graze in 2013.

The couple, who had moved down from Auckland, put the sale down to a change in circumstances – to help out on the family farm in Winton.

louise.scott@scene.co.nz