Cheers for the beers, Barry

Handover: From left, outgoing Pig & Whistle publican Barry Ellis with new owners James Murdoch and Gareth Bull

Queenstowner Barry Ellis has called time on the Pig & Whistle Pub after 22 years.

The popular local watering hole’s been bought by the publican of Christchurch’s well-known Carlton Bar & Eatery, James Murdoch, and his operations manager, Gareth Bull.

Bull was formerly ops manager for local bar baron Mike Burgess till joining Murdoch in Christchurch two years ago.

Ellis, whose original Pig & Whistle Pub was based in the town’s former manual phone exchange, says he had no intention of selling till the new owners approached him.

“We built a really good reputation way back and it’s become a bit of an iconic pub, certainly in Queenstown,” he says.

He’s confident the new owners will be “great mein hosts”.

Rugby-mad Ellis says his last day of trading two days ago was pretty memorable because his beloved Highlanders beat the Lions.

He had tickets and accommodation booked for the game, in Dunedin, “but this came up so I had to pull the pin”.

Ellis has spent 27 years in the local hospitality industry – he formerly owned Earnslaw Lodge and set up two other CBD bars, Guilty, which is now 1876, and Monty’s, both of which he’s also sold.

Bull says he and Murdoch “feel like we’re coming into an institution”.

“A conversation turned into an opportunity and the opportunity turned into a reality.

“We’ll run it as is until we’ve got our feet on the ground and then look for some opportunities to improve it.”