Bunker owner says outdoor curfew is a major bummer

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A Queenstown restaurateur is fighting a curfew on outdoor dining and drinking that he says is costing $10,000 a week. 

The Bunker owner Cameron Mitchell was this month served an abatement notice by council regulator Lakes Environmental requiring him to close his upstairs courtyard at 10pm. 

The notice says he’s in breach of his resource consent. 

Mitchell, however, says he thought his courtyard – part of the bar and restaurant complex – was covered by a variation to his consent, obtained in 2007. 

In addition, he thought he was covered by existing use rights, before noise controls were introduced in Queenstown’s CBD. 

“The courtyard has become a very successful part of my business – then all of a sudden we got slugged with this.
“It just highlights the restrictive nature of doing business in this town in hospitality.” 

Mitchell also points out that his courtyard is 10 metres back from Cow Lane, enclosed by three walls and a parapet roof, and some distance from any residence. 

But he also concedes there were grounds for a noise complaint he received over loud music played by a DJ during a product launch in April. 

Mitchell – who’s applying for a variation to his consent and rustling up a petition of support – says he’s losing about $10,000 in business a week. 

“Shutting my internal courtyard at 10pm halves my seating capacity, and most of the bar crowd don’t come in till after dark, which is 10pm in summer. 

“We’re supposed to be an international tourist destination and everybody’s got to pack up and go inside at 10 o’clock – it’s all a bit embarrassing, isn’t it?” 

Marisa Bidois, Restaurant Association of New Zealand’s chief executive, comments: “Queenstown has always been a place that has promoted hospitality with open arms – a lot of their marketing has been surrounding that. 

“In my experience and understanding, tourists don’t always like to dine inside after 10 o’clock.”