Bar baron Burgess sells up


Queenstown bar baron Mike Burgess has shed two of his outlets.

Burgess is best known as the co-owner of The Mall’s Winnies pizza joint and The Ballarat Trading Co bar/restaurant.

He and his business partners have sold both The Buffalo Club backpackers bar in Brecon Street and Gypsy Kitchen fast food outlet on Searle Lane.

Burgess says the The Buffalo Club, which he’d co-owned since 2003, was a great performer.

“But our interests are primarily centred on the Searle Ln/Mall area, so having the odd man out in Brecon St didn’t really suit.”

It’s been bought by Lauren and Chris Buckley, whose family own Pub on Wharf in Queenstown’s Steamer Wharf complex.

The bar reopened Friday night as The Brecon Street Merchant with a 1920s prohibition-era theme including a dummy ‘barber’s shop’ out front.

Though it’s open as a regular bar, Chris says it will also be used for functions, which Pub on Wharf doesn’t cater for.

“We’ve stepped out of that [backpackers] market.

“That market’s very, very tough and probably quite well sewn up towards The Mall/Searle Ln side of town.”

Chris says in 12 to 18 months’ time he hopes to completely refit the bar - “we have plans but they could change”.

Burgess, meanwhile, says he’s happy to sell Gypsy Kitchen, which only opened about six months ago, to the operators of the Taco Medic food truck in upper Brecon St.

“We couldn’t get the scale that we wanted to justify the effort, and it’s not really our focus.”

Taco Medic co-owner Anthony Wilkins says he and his business partners are delighted to have bought an outlet in such a central location, with its own commercial kitchen.

Their second Taco Medic opens daily from 12pm till 10pm.

Wilkins describes their offering as “a fresh, healthy New Zealand take on the traditional Mexico taco”.