Captain Cook pub to shut again, become pizza outlet

Potential customers will have to wait a little longer before the Captain Cook Hotel reopens....
The Captain Cook is about to change once again. Photo: Christine O'Connor
A landmark Dunedin pub is shutting up shop downstairs to make way for a pizza chain, less than two years after reopening.

The gastro-pub venture on the ground floor of the Captain Cook Hotel will be closed from next month, when New Zealand-based pizza franchise company Sal's will take over the lease.

Captain Cook Hotel operator Mike McLeod said he had made the decision to sell the pub and restaurant following an offer from Sal's.

But he will continue to operate the live music venue upstairs under the Captain Cook name.

Mr McLeod said he had mixed feelings about the sale, but was looking forward to having less on his plate and narrowing his focus to the venue upstairs.

"In some ways it's sad but it's also a relief."

Asked whether there would be job losses, Mr McLeod said: "some staff will be losing some work".

A small kitchen would be added to the venue upstairs in the coming weeks so it was able to serve food and thereby keep its liquor licence, he said.

He took over the running of the storied Great King St pub early last year.

It had earlier closed in 2013 following more than 150 years of operation.

The University of Otago moved to North Dunedin in 1878, and the pub had long been known as a watering hole for students and staff, playing an important part in campus life.

Poet James K. Baxter was among its patrons in the 1960s.

It increasingly became a raucous student party spot and in the 2000s it played host to the infamous "Cookathon" events.

However, its reopening in 2018 as a gastro-pub marked a more upmarket turn for the business.

Sal's takes over the lease on September 1, but it is unclear when the restaurant will open. and its management could not be reached for comment yesterday.


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