The company – owner of iconic Queenstown bars Minus 5 Ice Bar, Rhino’s Ski Shack and the newly invigorated Little Blackwood – has taken over existing Auckland establishments Bar 151 and United Kitchen.
Situated in trendy hospo hotspot Ponsonby, the businesses will continue to trade ‘as are’ for two months until they’re revamped, re-branded and re-launched as part of the Future Bars portfolio.
Although clearly “pumped” by the start of their Auckland endeavour, co-owner James Ace acknowledges they’re entering into an “extremely competitive” market. “We’re a small business with a massive vision and want to be up there with the very best in the industry,” he said. “We’re ready to take on the big boys and see Auckland as a natural progression for us.
“It’s important to get this right but we’re confident we’ve got the experience, the drive, the flair and the passion to make this a success.”
Situated in the heart of Ponsonby, opposite Ponsonby Central, Chapel Bar and Mexico, the Future Bars offering will sit side-by-side with some of the country’s best hospitality brands, people and experiences. “Ponsonby fits us like a glove – it’s buzzing, there’s a great vibe with a mix of locals and corporates and lots of businesses close by that complement us perfectly,” said James.
As part of the company’s future growth strategy, James headed to Auckland earlier in the year to seek out potential sites and was “stoked” when this opportunity popped up. “The timing was perfect – it’s a wicked venue and spot-on location so it all just clicked into place,” he said.
Dipping its toes into the Auckland market for the first time, it’s also taking on the foodie market for the first time by running the restaurant. “The restaurant aspect of the takeover’s really exciting; all our directors have previous experience in restaurants so we’re pretty comfortable with it,” said James.
“We plan to introduce our concept over the next two months, gather feedback and listen to what people are saying, then aim for a re-opening in November, just in time for summer.
“We’re playing around with the idea of opening up the two premises, rather than keeping them separate, so it’ll be an all-encompassing venue with food, cocktails, craft beer, wine and music.”
All three Future Bars co-owners are fully invested in the Auckland venture. Managing Director James works alongside creative manager Jason Whalley and general manager Burt Haines.
The 12 existing staff at the Ponsonby establishment are being retained including the venue manager and head chef. “While we work our magic, pop in and see us at Bar 151 and United Kitchen as we’d love to shout you a bite to eat, beer or cocktail in exchange for your thoughts and feedback,” said James.
“We’re very excited to be rubbing shoulders with some of the very best in the business and believe our new offering will absolutely complement our neighbours.”
Bar 151 and United Kitchen are located at 149 to 151 Ponsonby Road, Auckland City.