New owners toast Postmasters

Arrowtown restaurant Postmasters.
Arrowtown restaurant Postmasters.
Postmasters' new owners, from left, Sam Laycock, Maria Kealy and Ian MacLennan. Photos supplied.
Postmasters' new owners, from left, Sam Laycock, Maria Kealy and Ian MacLennan. Photos supplied.

The new owners of Arrowtown's Postmasters restaurant believe they have found the recipe for success.

Sam Laycock and his partner Maria Kealy, along with Queenstown restaurateur Ian MacLennan, took over the business this week aiming to ''knock the socks off'' locals and visitors with a dining experience blending today's tastes with the town's heritage.

Mr Laycock said the trio aimed to bring old and new Arrowtown together at Postmasters, which he described as ''the kind of place you can bring your girlfriend or your grandmother and have a great time with either''.

''Arrowtown's the perfect example of living history - born of the 1860s gold rush, its fascinating history is everywhere, but it's also evolved into a sophisticated multicultural town which appeals to visitors from all over the world.

''The Postmasters Residence is a gem of Arrowtown's history, so we're giving diners a true local experience by combining the cottage's old world charm and stunning setting with the best in Central Otago food, wine and hospitality.''

The Buckingham St building was the former home of the town's postmasters and has been a main street feature for more than 100 years. It seats 40 inside and 40 outside for lunch or dinner.

Mr Laycock and head chef Scott Wyper had created a diverse menu with a strong emphasis on fresh seasonal flavours and quality local produce.

Mr Wyper's experience ranged from stints at Browns and The Ivy, in the United Kingdom, to Pier 19 and Dux de Lux in Queenstown, while Mr Laycock had a diverse set of cafe and restaurant skills, working at Sombreros Mexican Cantina and Vudu Cafe.

Both, however, shared the same philosophy about food.

''Great produce, done simply and well, is hard to beat,'' Mr Laycock said.

Postmasters history

• The original house burnt down in 1907, but was replaced with a bay villa, which has now been maintained and preserved for more than 100 years.
• The villa was used by post office staff until the 1980s, housing the last postmaster until 1982.
• After being retired from service, the building became a B&B and then an artist's residence, before becoming a restaurant.
• In 1996, plans to demolish the building and build apartments fired up the Arrowtown community and it convinced the Queenstown Lakes District Council to place a heritage protection order on the building.
• In 1997, this order was removed and the community again responded by raising funds to buy the building.
• Before being sold to a developer, various covenants were agreed to - including the protection of the gardens - to ensure the Postmasters Residence and Post Office would remain historic town features.

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