Star and Garter in good hands

New Star and Garter restaurant owner Katie Robertson (right) says goodbye to her predecessor Lisa...
New Star and Garter restaurant owner Katie Robertson (right) says goodbye to her predecessor Lisa Pope outside the much loved restaurant. PHOTO: GRAHAM MCKERRACHER
Long ago, down Itchen Street where the tourists go

There dwelled a restaurant that people know

T’was named the Star and Garter and people have loved it so ...

Do not worry, the much loved eatery is still there and so is its "iconic menu".

What has happened is that after 20 years, its long time owner, Lisa Pope is moving on, letting go and passing on to a younger generation.

Katie Robertson, the new manager has some things that she wants to change, but one of the things that will not change is the restaurant’s kiwi menu.

It may have one or two of its older recipes added back in, but no babies will be thrown out with the bath water in this business changeover.

Some of the standout dishes on the menu include the pan-fried blue cod, lamb shank slow-cooked in red wine, and seafood chowder made with fresh local ingredients.

Ms Robertson, who has been in hospitality industry for years, said she received a lot of family support with the move.

Originally from Oamaru she has been overseas and had returned to her hometown to settle.

She said while the menu will stay in place she will be bringing back some of the old dishes that were on it as well.

"Other changes will be that we will be open seven days and there will be Gold Card days on Thursdays starting next week.

"We missed out on buying the Portside, but this is a better opportunity to get into the business and Lisa is the perfect mentor.

"I’m looking forward to providing decent food to tourists and locals and an enjoyable dining experience at a reasonable price.

Ms Pope points out, the owners prior to her summed up the business ethos nicely with the phrase "Friendly food and delicious staff," it is frosted on the windows.

But first things first, when she finishes today, Ms Pope is going to take some time to enjoy her family and grandchildren in Rangiora, Queenstown and "up North".

There is also a bit of travelling in Europe on the cards. Before letting go entirely, she wants to assure everyone the restaurant is in good hands.

"Katie Robertson was one of my staff.

"It’s a really nice feeling to see it moving on but not changing for changes sake."

Ms Pope is still enthralled by the history of the building and the fact it has been trading as a restaurant since 1908 and has not closed.

The grand Star and Garter Hotel, designed by Dunedin architect RA Lawson and built between 1866 and 1868 set the standard for hotel accommodation in Oamaru when the Oamaru stone building was first built.

But the Star and Garter name can be traced as far back as 1860, when William Jones purchased the hotel (a timber building) and renamed it the Star and Garter before it was redesigned as a hotel and "Oamaru’s Masonic Hall’.

The Star and Garter restaurant as it now is, stands beside the the building designed by RA Lawson.

"I am going to miss the people, the locals make you feel good.

There were lots of tears saying goodbye, it was a very emotional day last Sunday, especially with the oldies, who have been coming here a long time."

What she is not going to miss are the long hours, working weekends and public holidays.

"Thanks everyone from the bottom of my heart for all your support and I wish Katie all the best."

Ms Robertson, who has worked at the Star and Garter for more than three months, is looking forward to all the regulars and familiar faces coming back.