2 months ago

The Star: September 06, 2018

6 Thursday

6 Thursday September 6 2018 Latest Christchurch news at The Star News Sooty sells up after 26 years of Well-known publican Stephen “Sooty” Moffett is moving on from the Islington Tavern after 26 years. He sat down with reporter Anan Zaki to discuss the highs and lows IT WAS the night of September 4, 2010, the city was still in shock from the magnitude 7.1 earthquake which struck that morning. Businesses all over the city were closed, but on Main South Rd, the queues for the Islington Tavern, also known as The Swamp, spilled onto the footpath. “We never missed a day. There was just nowhere else [for people] to go. One in the morning and we had 100 people outside and 100 people inside and we’re only allowed 144 people,” recalls Mr Moffett. “At one stage we had 11 doormen, so it takes everything you make away. We had people dragging each other through windows, it was crazy.” The 54-year-old took over The Swamp in August 1992, and moved in above the pub. To this END OF AN ERA: Stephen “Sooty” Moffett is selling the Islington Tavern, known as The Swamp after 26 years of ownership. day he does not know how it became known as The Swamp. “No idea and no one has ever told me. It was always here. Whether it had something to do with the freezing works around here, I don’t know,” Mr Moffett said. The pub has remained a popular watering hole for freezing workers and rugby league players. When Mr Moffett took over, it was his first foray into hospitality. “My former in-laws were in the [hospitality] game, and at the time we thought it was a great idea.” Initially it was hard, working long hours to keep the business running, but that was just part of the “tough” industry. “I really slogged it out back then,” he said. One memorable moment that he will never forget in his 26 years at The Swamp was a breakin in the late 1990s. “The most bizarre thing that’s ever happened is I got robbed by two people in wetsuits and [they] emptied our gaming machines. “The alarms didn’t go off, the window was taken out and they came through,” Mr Moffett said. The break-in was caught on a CCTV camera, but police were never able to catch the thieves, he said. Mr Moffett started $5 roasts which packed in customers. “Twenty-six years ago, there was just less choice. Hospitality is really tough on the food game at the moment. “To sell a roast to a young person now would be pretty hard, whereas back then they would come looking for it,” Mr Moffett said. Behaviour at pubs have also changed for the better in recent years, he said. Problems with mobility but don’t know what to look for? We do.. From the best mobility scooters, wheelchairs, innovative modifications, down to crutches and walkers, we have the widest range of personal mobility support available in the South Island. Our products and after sale service are second to none! • Customisation • Scooter service centre • Annual warrant of fitness checks • Road side breakdown assistance • Safety training • Gain freedom and independence Call in or make a booking for a free no obligation assessment of your needs. All models available in a range of colours. Contact us 03 366 8815 Visit us 29 Shakespeare Road, Waltham Christchurch Open Mon – Fri 8:30am – 5pm or by appointment Parking available

The Star Latest Christchurch news at Thursday September 6 2018 7 pulling pints •From “Twenty-six years ago you’d be waiting at the back door for something to happen. It was the wild west. “Whereas now, if something happened it would make the newspaper,” Mr Moffett said. When fights broke out, he had no time for it and trespass notices were handed out almost immediately. Mr Moffett said he is selling the business to a “North Island-based development company.” He said the owners did not want to be named. However, Mr Moffett will still be at The Swamp until the new owners fully take over in late February. He decided to sell the business after struggling through a year of roadworks at Pound Rd from 2016 to 2017. “It was never really for sale, they [the new owners] came trying to buy it and I guess once you see roadworks around here, you realise how vulnerable you are to it affecting your business. “We had a drastic change in turnover, revenue fell about 20 per cent. But I’m not going to say how much we turn over,” Mr Moffett said. He does not know what the new owners plans are for the property, but he believes the name The Swamp will be kept. And what will he miss the most when he leaves The Swamp? “The people. The characters that come here, you get to know them all over the years,” Mr Moffett said. As for his own nickname, “Sooty”, it originated from The Sooty (TV) Show which ran from 1955 to 1992. “When I worked at a supermarket as a schoolboy [in the 1970s], I used to pack sausages, and the boss of the butchery gave [the name]. “There was two of us [working under the boss], I was called Sooty and the other one was called Sweep,” Mr Moffett said. And he doesn’t plan to leave the industry just yet. “I’ve got another bar, Schroeder’s in St Albans. At this stage it’ll be the only one,” he said. However, Mr Moffett did not rule out buying a new bar. He has some advice for anyone looking into getting into the hospitality industry. “It’s [about] the customer, the customer, the customer,” Mr Moffett said. “No matter what you think, it’s about the customer.” page 1 Dexter Dunn, who been New Zealand’s top reinsman for a number of years, was beaten for the title by his good friend Orange. All have come to police attention through Operation Inca, which started as a race-fixing investigation 18 months ago after information passed on by the Racing Integrity Unit. The New Zealand Herald reported yesterday phone surveillance was a part of the investigation. Dexter Dunn, was New Zealand’s top reinsmen for a number of years, until he was beaten for the title by Orange, his good friend, last season. Yesterday morning, the Racing Integrity Unit banned six trainers or drivers charged from attending race meetings, which now looks certain to happen to others arrested later yesterday. That will mean at least 10 Local News Now Corruption sting widens John Dunn Natalie Rasmussen Fire rages, homes at risk trainers and drivers who could have had horses racing at Addington tomorrow night will not be able to attend. The RIU will then rule on whether they can participate in racing activities before their cases are heard. Harness racing bosses are dismayed by the rapidly-growing number of cases but have vowed their flagship national awards, for which some of those charged were in the running for honours, will still go ahead at Alexandra Park on September 29. No funerals at Fendalton property A FUNERAL home owner has backed down over plans to hold small-scale funerals out of his Fendalton home. Andrew Bell has instead applied for a resource consent to operate a home office from his property on Rochdale St, Stuff reported yesterday. The Bell, Lamb and Trotter managing director intends to carry out administrative activities including invoicing, payments, web design and service sheet design from the house, a resource consent application shows. Mr Bell had originally planned to operate a small-scale funeral home from the property, but a resource consent allowing the move, which was issued by commissioner Philip Milne, was quashed by the High Court in March after the Rochdale Precinct Society pursued a judicial review of the decision. In her ruling, Justice Susan Thomas said while she agreed the original application met the “home occupation” rules, the commissioner had erred in his consideration of traffic issues. Mr Bell had planned to hold up to 26 services a year in the house limited to 10 people, including staff. Nearby residents were incensed at the decision allowing the company to hold funerals at the home and formed the society to seek the review. Have you checked your underfloor repairs? This is the sort of ‘repair’ we are finding. We will go under your house and give you peace of mind for free. NO WIN NO FEE Ph: 03 377 8855 | 130 Ferry Road, Christchurch E: | W: