Big bucks upgrade

Excited: Chris Buckley

A Queenstown publican is spending $1 million revamping The Brecon Street Merchant.

Chris Buckley, who bought the former The Buffalo Club last year with wife Lauren, has been running it as a 1920s prohibition era-themed bar.

He says this was a stop-gap while they worked on plans for the full redesign.

While he admits the budget has exceeded initial expectations he also believes it will be worth it.

“We didn’t want to muck around and do half of what we wanted. We wanted to do it properly and present something we’re really proud of.”

The existing pub will likely close its doors at the end of the month and reopen in August as a yet-to-be-named Cajun restaurant and bar.

“Think a southern states of America-style venue. That is what the food and service will focus on.”

The old bar will be ripped out and a new one installed on the left-hand side of the building.

But punters who remember dancing on it at The Buffalo Club needn’t worry – the owners hope to turn it into a banquet table for the upstairs dining area.

Buckley, who also runs Pub on Wharf, has been working with head chef Joff Bertram on the menu – which will include a hearty gumbo stew, Cajun pork ribs and beef cheek croquettes mixed in with a few Kiwi classics.

Food is crucial at the design stage, he says, as it needs to fit with the bar and restaurant’s theme and furnishings.

The kit-out will also include a swanky kitchen, a library area and new wood and leather furnishings, which he describes as “funky vintage”.

Buckley reckons it’ll be different to existing Queenstown hospo outlets and hopes it will be a regular for locals as well as tourists.

Merchant staff will pick up shifts at Pub on Wharf during the refurb and Buckley will employ more staff prior to the new pub opening its doors.