‘Dickens of a good time’ in Whangarei

4:18 PM Saturday May 5, 2018 Paul Charman

Dickens Inn has welcomed patrons at its plum leased Whangarei site at 71 Cameron St, since 1995. Photo / Supplied

Dickens Inn Cafe, Bar and Restaurant is one of those meet-up places sitting right at the apex of the hospitality pyramid, due to its atmosphere and ambience.

Pulling in nearly $40,000 gross per week, plus seating close to 250 people in diverse settings, this is arguably the most successful hospitality venue in Whangarei, says Link Business sales agent Nick Giles.

Giles is selling the popular business which has operated at a plum leased inner-city site at 71 Cameron St, since 1995.

He says owners Graeme and Vicki Cundy established the business over 23 years ago, steadily building the gastro pub into the business it is today.

“Graeme and Vicki are now planning to sell and retire, which creates a wonderful opportunity.

“This makes it possible for somebody to just walk in and take over a vibrant and successful operation with proven systems and well trained staff. All the hard work has already been done,” says Giles.

Giles adds that the popular establishment’s story goes a long way back beyond the 90s, as it operates within an historic inner-city hotel building dating back to 1891.

“Graeme and Vicki Cundy saw the potential and established their restaurant-bar operation, dubbing it ‘Dickens Inn’ as a nod to their own heritage.

“The great author is part of their family lineage, which also very appropriately spans 130 years of beer brewing.”

Giles says what attracted them to the site is easy to see. It sits in the middle of Cameron St, Whangarei’s main street attracting shoppers, nearby office workers and tourists alike.

True Commercial - 71 Cameron St%2c Whangarei - Dickens Inn outdoor area.jpg

Separate seating areas outside and inside allow for varying experiences. Photo / Supplied

“They’ve created a wonderful family-orientated restaurant and gastro-bar; and there’s also an extensive food offering with two main dining menus offering breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.

“The portions are generous and the food is exceptionally well reviewed. The pub is also well-known for an extensive range of craft beers and fine wines,” he says.

Giles says street access is from two sides with the main frontage on Cameron St with its extensive alfresco dining, and the property winding around to Quality St - an attractive dining alleyway - to the side.

The premises itself is very spacious with the entrance way leading to the main bar and restaurant area with its huge vaulted ceiling.

Separate seating areas allow for privacy and varying experiences, such as dining with the family or a drink with friends, relaxing by the fire, or watching sport on the 2.7m video wall.

Upstairs there is a large area perfect for private functions and events. This area can be partitioned for smaller groups allowing flexibility to run two or more events concurrently.

“An upstairs lounge area is perfect for ‘break out’ sessions, or for use as a quiet area for people getting away from the main restaurant hubbub,” says Giles.

“The wonderful thing about this space is that private events can be arranged without affecting normal operations downstairs. It really is very well designed.”

Giles says the inn runs like a well-oiled machine.

“After 22 years of operation, the owners have some very slick systems in place.

“Everything is neatly documented so there is very little room for error. Food costs are meticulously calculated and monitored and there is a highly experienced management team in place to not only control costs, but to ensure that the reputation of Dickens Inn.”

He says sales are $39,000 per week including GST. The business has remained steady over the years and the costs are very well controlled.

“Wages are a touch high but this is reflection largely on the fact that the owners do not work operationally in the business and on the fact that they want to maintain the high standards they have set.

“A full time working owner should be able to ease this percentage.

“The rent is good at 6.1 per cent of sales and there is a nice solid lease in place.”

At a glance:

  • Opening hours: 8.30am till 12 am, seven-days.
  • Seating: 86 seats upstairs; 45 seats downstairs; 60 seats in the bar area; 40 seats outside; 12 seats in the alleyway on Quality St.
  • Rent per annum: is now $97,752.
  • Term of current lease: five years; final expiry, March 19, 2030. Rent review by CPI every 3 years.
  • Staffing: Full timers - six front of house (FOH), seven in the kitchen. Part timers – cleaner, four FOH and two kitchen.
  • Average weekly sales: $38,966 (including GST).
  • Food accounts for 63 per cent of sales and beverages 37 per cent.
  • Asking Price: $1,185,000.
  • Plus stock: $30,000.