Ten Queenstown Mall eateries have decided to combine forces to combat the effects of the Covid-19 environment, in a resort where all are heavily reliant on overseas visitors.

A Queenstown Long Lunch will be held the length of Queenstown Mall on March 19 as the 10 Mall restaurants turn out a brand new twist on their usual fine fare offerings.

About 300 diners – locals and hopefully visitors from other regions, will be seated along the length of the Mall with a bar positioned at the bottom near Lake Wanaka.

The event is being organised by local hospitality company, Republic Hospitality, owner of 10 Queenstown hospitality venues including Winnies and The Ballarat in the Mall, in conjunction with Christchurch-based event managers, Multi Events.

Republic’s head of sales Jax Smith says the long lunch concept has worked well in reviving the central business areas of other Kiwi towns, including nearby Arrowtown, with that event managed by Multi Events in recent years.

Multi Events owner operator Wendy Alfeld says the company is also currently working on a similar long lunch event in Ashburton. “We’re hoping to put together two more of these in other New Zealand towns next year,” she says.

The Queenstown restaurateurs want to remind everyone what amazing food offerings and retailers they have up and down the Mall, says Jax. “We wanted to keep that drive going after summer so we decided the best way was to work with each other and not against each other.”

Queenstown’s central downtown restaurants and bars have always been a prime focus for overseas tourists and it’s been especially challenging in recent years as there’s been a local drift out further into the basin, focusing more on new Frankton developments.

“We’ve been trying to get business back into the Queenstown town centre and get locals and Kiwis back in there as it’s been largely targeted by international tourists,” says Jax.

Restaurants represented include Caribe, Kappa, Captain’s, Margo’s, Fogo, Paddy Gaddy’s, Winnies, Rata taking over Hawker and Roll for the day, Madam Woo and Akarua Wines & Kitchen By Artisan taking over Ballarat for the day.

“We’ve had wonderful support,” says Jax. “We’ve recently had Rata jump on board and take over Hawker and Roll’s restaurant (for the day).”

There’ll be a wide range of cuisine on offer from each restaurant’s three-course menu, including everything from Asian fusion and South American to New Zealand. Each restaurant will showcase a special twist on their normal offerings just for the event. Live music will be playing throughout the event too.

Ticket pricing is expected to range from around $70 to $120 dependent on the menu purchased.

The organisers are also hoping to be able to build a local fundraiser around the event.

“It’s been a difficult for Queenstown as a whole over summer,” says Jax. The closed borders have had a huge impact on the resort, weighing heavily on local restaurants and the hospitality industry with some people left out of work, others facing lost revenue, doors shut and staff cuts, she says.

“We’re trying to create a buzz in the local region again and hopefully we’ll draw people in from the surrounding regions like Southland, Otago, and Canterbury, as well as the subdivisions and estates further out of town.”

Hospitality operators around the country are having to be more innovative, organising special events like this, says Wendy. “We’ve done 40 to 45 hospitality events throughout the country since the main lockdown last year,” she says. “People are wanting to go out and do things. They’re really starting to talk about this Queenstown event, even in Christchurch too.”

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