Uncertain future for student pub

The Captain Cook Tavern, one of few remaining student pubs in Dunedin, may be closing its doors....
The Captain Cook Tavern, one of few remaining student pubs in Dunedin, may be closing its doors. Photo by ODT Files.
The future of historic Dunedin student watering hole the Captain Cook is unclear.

DB Breweries' lease of the bar runs out at the end of June, and the operations manager of Cook Brothers Bars, which subleases the bar, believed the bar would most likely close when the lease ran out.

''I would find it hard to believe that anyone would [take over the bar],'' Guy Randall said.

However, Noel Kennedy, one of three directors of Orari Street Properties Investments Ltd, which owns the building, said there was no question of the Cook closing, ''and we will be fighting to make sure that never happens under our watch''. Various parties were being spoken to about taking over the lease, including DB, but ''nothing has been finalised at this point'', he said.

''The Cook has such a brand that it would be ridiculous to let that disappear.''

He said the bar could be operated with a ''different format'' once its sublease ran out.

When contacted again, Mr Randall stood by his comments the Cook would likely close.

''We are not going to be there. It's up to the market if someone wants to do it, but personally I don't think [anyone will].''

The bar made less money than in the past because students' drinking patterns had changed. More were heading to the Octagon to drink, he said.

The company, which had taken its name from the bar, would be sad to see the Dunedin institution go, but hoped to go out with a bang, he said.

''There will certainly be a lot of activity during O-Week and then again towards the end of the lease, where maybe we dive back in history and might have some bands back upstairs again.''

The bar had been a ''large part of student culture for forever and a day'', he said.

''It [was] an important part of Dunedin culture in the 1980s, with the Dunedin sound movement. A lot of great bands have been through there.''

DB Breweries senior communications adviser Simon Smith said the lease expired on June 29 and the company had no intention of extending it.

''The fact that DB holds the head lease is essentially an historical anomaly and, as such, DB has advised the landlord that it does not intend to enter into a new lease of the premises.''

The Captain Cook Tavern, known as the Cook, was established in 1860 and stands as the last of the three main student pubs in North Dunedin. The Gardens Tavern and the Bowler were earlier bought by the University of Otago, for conversion into academic facilities.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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