Queenstown’s celebrity chef Josh Emett is to open a second restaurant in town – taking over vacated Tatler premises down The Mall.
Emett and business partner Fleur Caulton say they’ve been searching for the right spot for a new venture since opening Rata near the Queenstown courthouse in April 2012.
The new restaurant will do modern Asian cuisine, with a menu designed by Emett and Malaysian protegee Jane Leong.
“Jane and I talked almost two years ago about doing something together,” Emett says.
“She came to Queenstown and has been working with us at Rata until the right opportunity came along. We feel we’ve found it so we’re really excited. It was just a matter of time [opening a second local restaurant].
“I absolutely love Asian food – everything about it. I could eat it every day. But it’s also about having key people around you,” he says.
“It will be approachable, casual, fun, which is what I think we need.”
Leong worked with MasterChef New Zealand judge Emett at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in Melbourne.
Emett and local restaurateur Caulton – backed by an investment team including Sir Eion Edgar – believe the 80-seater Tatler premises at the bottom of The Mall ticks all the boxes.
Caulton: “The building is beautiful and upstairs is a private dining space, function room and overspill. It’s the right location, awesome foot traffic, right side of the street for sun.”
Tatler is auctioning off fittings, furniture and other chattels today. Owner Mark Jessop bought into Tatler in 2000, after selling Winnies in The Mall, and also owns nearby Prime with wife Caroline. Jessop says he couldn’t come to a new lease agreement with landlord Les Keeper.
The sticking point was a proposed demolition clause giving the right to evict on six months’ notice to bowl the building, Jessop claims.
The unnamed Asian restaurant is to open by the end of November. The site is believed to cost $250,000 a year in rent and outgoings.