'Difficult' to change perception of pub

The Captain Cook Tavern.
The Captain Cook Tavern.
Anyone taking over the Captain Cook Tavern would face a difficult task changing people's perception about the student watering hole, the owner of another North Dunedin pub says.

The comments come amid an uncertain future for the pub, with DB Breweries' lease of the building running out at the end of June.

Cook Brothers Bars, which subleases the Cook, will cease operating the pub when the lease expires. Its operations manager, Guy Randall, said this would most likely signal the end for the pub, with it not making as much money as it once did.

Starters Bar owner Adam Turoa said times had changed since the Cook's heyday, with students no longer wanting to drink at ''skody student pubs''.

Anyone taking over the Cook would need to diversify the pub's market beyond just students, and change people's perception that it was just a ''scarfie'' pub. Given the Cook's reputation, this would be a difficult task, he said.

Mr Turoa said the success he had running the Starters Bar - formerly the Oriental - since buying it five years ago was proof that you could run a successful pub in North Dunedin.

He and his wife managed to build up its clientele by not just focusing on students and by ''leveraging'' off the new Forsyth Barr Stadium, he said.

''I think ... [Cook Brothers Bars] have just rested on their laurels a little bit and expected people to rock on up. That has probably stung them a little bit,'' he said.

The Starters Bar was now on the market, with Mr Turoa saying he was ready to move on to his next business opportunity. This did not mean the pub was at risk of closing, though.

''We are only selling because we know we are going to get a good price for it.''

Yesterday, the Otago University Students' Association distanced itself from comments made last year by then president Logan Edgar that it was interested in building a pub in North Dunedin.

''The OUSA executive has at this stage not heard any motions regarding the purchase or building of a pub,'' president Francisco Hernandez said.

The University of Otago declined to comment.

Last year, vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said it was open to being involved in a pub as a way of reducing alcohol-related harm.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

'It's a Madman Destination'

Back in the day, you could hear the 'Sugar Babes' on MTV, and get a free jug by handing over a questions paper, at exam time.

Pubs are important

It's a very bad idea to close down the Captain Cook Tavern. If that is done, the number of unsupervised keg parties will escalate. It is also iconic. It provides food. Pubs offer supervision. Those who think that problem drinking lessens in Dunedin North when all the pubs are finally done away with haven't done their sums or thought things through.

Pubs are important for offering a safe venue. Anyone who has had a bit much is able to get a taxi home and to be advised to do that. We have a very large number of street parties in Dunedin North once the student year kicks in. Are we further developing an out-of-pub and on-the-street drinking culture? Will it get worse if there are no pubs left to drink at? Might that be seen as a serious problem if it does?

Once Orientation starts the Cook will have long lines of people wanting to get in. It used to offer music - bands and such like. Is it still doing that regularly? Perhaps bring in some good acts for the quieter nights and get everyone off the street and away from private parties. Since drinking hasn't gotten less at all, it seems that there is a lot to be done to make life more manageable and enjoyable too. The idea of the University getting involved seems very good. There could be 'live to air' music through Radio One from The Cook and a lot could be done with the upstairs bar.

Yeah Right

Do you really expect us to believe that Harlene? We have already seen your way of reducing alcohol-related harm when the University purchased the Bowler and the Gardies. How did that go again? Oh that's right, shut it down.

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