It was a who’s who of hospitality and aviation. Airspresso Queenstown was officially unveiled at a casual opening function on August 11attended by more than 100 invited guests and dignitaries from around the country.
As TV weather personality and co-owner Jim Hickey told guests, it had taken some major hurdles and a consummate team effort to get the project airborne. When Hickey and his New Plymouth business partner, Ozone Coffee Roasters owner, Craig Macfarlane, opened the first Airspresso in New Plymouth, many thought it was a tad too flash for an airport. But the successful recipe of great coffee, fresh local food and colourful aviation heritage had worked well there and is already drawing in the crowds in Queenstown.
The Queenstown Airport Corporation had many hospitality options to choose from when selecting a tenant, including some big hospitality players. But it was “the persistent pair from the provinces”, who were given the creative licence to transform the prime airport site, with its stunning mountain views.
The drinks flowed as wait staff floated by with trays carrying delicious mini-snack meals of curry, fish and chips and macaroni cheese served in mini cardboard popcorn-style boxes.
Legendary Wanaka pilot and Warbirds Over Wanaka founder Sir Tim Wallis didn’t quite make it, but other long-time local pilots were on hand to celebrate. Wildfire Commercial Kitchens and Bars owner Nils Danielsen was also proudly celebrating what he described as one of the “most satisfying” jobs he had worked on in terms of its end result. “It’s been one of the most rewarding, and it looks cool and functions really well.”
The four-sided central hub works practically and architecturally with the hot line, bar, food-to-go and food preparation taking one side each. Every square metre has been cleverly maximised on what is a very limited site. Even the two large, 30-litre steel doors of the fridge and freezer have been incorporated into a rear wall on the public side and made to look like a work of art. “What we’ve got here is something that’s really unique that can and does work,” says Nils.
Co-owner Craig Macfarlane agrees: “It’s definitely something unique for New Zealand and internationally.”