Prime rooftop: Outgoing Prime Restaurant owner Mark Jessop, left, with Republic Hospitality Group chairman Mike Burgess, centre, and CEO Blair Impey


Queenstown’s biggest hospo operator’s going up in the world.

Republic Hospitality Group, which owns 10 local venues, including Winnies, has bought  Prime Restaurant, and plans to add a rooftop lounge area.

The company, led by director Mike Burgess, will potentially spend up to $3 million providing ‘‘a dazzling hospitality experience on the lake’’, CEO Blair Impey says.

Including a new name, the new concept will ideally launch by December next year.

Meantime, Prime — opened by Mark Jessop 17 years ago — will continue by and large as is.

Coincidentally, Burgess bought Winnies from Jessop 20 years ago.

‘‘In the way Winnies has been a flagship for our group, we hope this new Prime site will be a flagship,’’ Impey says.

He and Burgess have both been on the roof with their landlord Skyline Enterprises’ CEO Geoff McDonald to share their vision with him.

‘‘We think it’s one of the best sites in Queenstown, if not the best, with great potential,’’ Impey says, adding their new concept will be ‘‘restaurant-led’’.

With the existing first-level restaurant, ‘‘we’re talking of opening up, potentially, portions of the roof’’.

There’s also scope for a lake-facing deck on that level, though that could also be recessed.

The garden area out the front, by steps leading up to the restaurant, would also be ‘‘prettied up’’.

Prime also has access from Rees Street, including a lift that could be extended by a glass lift onto the roof, Impey says.

He notes the new venue also provides ‘‘lots of growth opportunities for [Republic] staff’’.

Meanwhile, Jessop says he’s pleased Prime’s ‘‘going to a good home’’.

‘‘It’s time for another outfit to reach further heights.’’

Jessop and his wife Caroline recently reopened Faigans Kitchen and Cafe at Millers Flat.