Queenstown managers cop ban for after-hours party

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An AFTER-HOURS booze-up in a top-rated Queenstown bar-restaurant has seen two managers temporarily lose their licences – and one lose his job.

Steven Gaut and Katie Himsworth were brought before the Alcohol Regulatory & Licensing Authority by police after the unauthorised drinking session at The Bunker upstairs on May 2.

Gaut – who no longer works at the swanky cocktail bar – was duty manager that night.

ARLA’s recent verdicts recount how Gaut and fellow Bunker staffer Sam Bailey dished out free drinks to other staffers and three members of the public – including an off-duty Himsworth, manager at Captain’s Restaurant.

During the booze-up, a third Bunker staffer – Jeremy Olsen – became “significantly intoxicated”.

Bailey and Olsen also no longer work at the Cow Lane nightspot.

Gaut left at 5.30am while the others stayed on until cleaners arrived at 7.30am.

Police submitted that despite finishing his shift, Gaut as manager should have “ensured the premises were cleared in a responsible and timely manner”.

Gaut was also culpable by allowing Olsen to become drunk, police contended.

Himsworth was among those staying till 7.30am – as a manager herself, she should have realised her transgression, police said.

Neither Himsworth nor Gaut disputed the grounds put forward to suspend their licences – both got four-week bans. Himsworth’s kicked in on August 5 and Gaut’s started on August 12.

Mountain Scene understands Himsworth still works at Captain’s Restaurant.

The Bunker owner Cameron Mitchell says the after-hours boozers downed “several hundred dollars’ worth” of his drinks.

Shortly after the incident, Mitchell told Mountain Scene the unnamed instigator was leaving for Dubai and had wanted a send-off – that person can now be identified as Bailey.

“I learnt a lesson about trusting people but as the owner of the business you can’t be there 24/7,” Mitchell says.
“Unfortunately, sometimes you get let down.”

Mitchell says those involved have been punished “to the best of the law’s ability” and “I’m sure they’ve learnt their lesson”.

Mitchell, local Restaurant Association branch president, encourages other hospitality operators to cooperate fully with police over incidents – as he did.

These latest breaches by Gaut and Himsworth will have local booze barons gnashing their teeth.

Queenstown’s council is formulating a new district liquor policy and the continuing spate of licensing breaches is a bad look.

By Mountain Scene’s count, 16 local bar managers have been pinged in recent months.

Council regulatory boss Lee Webster has said bar owners must select duty managers very carefully.

Duty managers are effectively in-house policemen upholding the Sale of Liquor Act, Webster said.