Celia’s Book


How to grow your hospitality business

Home Grown Hospitality

Hospitality is principally about entertainment. It is about socialising; about people getting together, at home or in a restaurant, sharing their news and perhaps having something to eat and drink. In looking at the development of New Zealand’s hospitality industry, there is one feature above all that has influenced its history. From the very beginning of European settlement, the rules surrounding the supply and sale of liquor have determined the setting where hospitality could take place. In this sense our restrictive liquor licensing regulations prevented the emergence of restaurants and public forms of dining until the changes to the Sale of Liquor Act in 1989.

Winemaker, Danny Schuster tells the story of when he arrived in New Zealand in 1971. He was looking around Christchurch for somewhere to eat. He heard some “clinking glasses” and managed to locate the source of the noise.  He found a small restaurant and promptly ordered dinner with a bottle of wine; “look sharp because I am hungry”. The wine arrived at the table, an Italian red, and with it, a candle. When he asked the host what the candle was for, he was instructed “to put it in the bottle when cops come!”.

In researching this, I am amazed at the complex muddle of rules and legislation that has been passed down since 1842. It is not surprising then, the lengths that people would go to in order to outwit the authorities. This commentary provides an interesting social history of New Zealand and I feel it is salutary to look back to better understand how the hospitality industry has evolved.

From earliest European settlement, there was an element of society who knew about French cuisine, although they were British. Top quality food had to be cooked according to French principles and would naturally need to be served with only the best French wines. Even in these early years there appears a sensibility, especially among the small elite, that wine was chic and while we tend to associate the nineteenth century as a period of high spirit and beer consumption, it is a revelation to learn of the extent of vineyard plantings in New Zealand.