Four Queenstown CBD restaurants close for good

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 20, 2024

Parking and traffic issues may be partly to blame for the closure of four separate eateries in the Queenstown CBD.

A sign on the outside of Hell Pizza on Searle Lane advises it has closed its doors "for forever more", while further along the strip Joe's Garage is also no longer.

Last week, Crux reported a third eatery on that same lane - Taco Medic - had also gone out of business.

Meanwhile, one street over, on the Queenstown Mall, Asian fusion restaurant Paddy Gaddy is also boarded up, and listed as "permanently closed" on its Facebook page.

Although she doesn't know the individual circumstances that lead to the closures, Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sharon Fifield says she is hearing that access to the CBD and parking are ongoing issues businesses are battling with.

She says it is also "a tough time for businesses absorbing rising costs".

"It's always sad hearing of shop closures."

Joe’s Garage director Laura Whelan says the closure of the CBD store will allow the business to focus its efforts on its Five Mile location, which remains open.

Ms Whelan says it seemed like the right decision.

“A large number of locals don’t head into town anymore.”

Joe’s Garage opened its first store in the Queenstown CBD 24 years ago, and now there are 19 restaurants around the country.

Over at Hell, business founder Callum Davies says the Queesntown franchise had been for sale and under offer, but that didn't go through, which forced doors to shut permanently.

Mr Davies says there are "unique challenges" operating in a "tourist destination", and the pandemic, rising rents and increasing supply costs have all made things more difficult in recent years. 

He says close to ten staff have been made redundant locally as a result, and he acknowledges how "incredibly hard" they have worked, "delivering more than pizza to the community".

The business is looking for a new franchisee to reopen a store in the area at a new location.

"When the time is right, the fires of Hell will burn bright in Queenstown again.”

Last week Taco Medic director Trevor Gile told Crux the closure of his two Queenstown stores - one in the CBD and another in Frankton - could be blamed on food price inflation, wage inflation, and a slowdown in the economy.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council was told by residents at its Project Manawa hearing yesterday that many locals avoid town unless they live in suburbs like Fernhill and Sunshine Bay that mean they have to pass through the CBD.

A struggle to find parking and traffic congestion were again floated as the reason for this, as well as the amount of facilities and amenities now located in Frankton.

Attempts by Crux to contact Paddy Gaddy for comment for this story were unsuccessful.

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