Pub in paradise has ‘Ponsonby panache’

5:00 AM Saturday September 26, 2015 Colin Taylor

The frontage of the Duke of Marlborough Tavern in Russell.

The business, lease and assets of the Duke of Marlborough Tavern in the historic Bay of Islands township of Russell have been put on the market for sale by negotiation through Chester Rendell of Bayleys Real Estate.

Rendell says the tavern is a locals’ bar that was revamped five years ago by bringing in design and interior decor elements to create a venue with some “Ponsonby Road type flair and panache” while retaining its own down-to-earth feel.

He says the Duke of Marlborough Tavern has three distinct patronage areas:

  • A standard inside bar and restaurant area with a mix of leaners, seated tables and large screen televisions for sports watching.
  • A covered outdoor area suitable for watching live music acts or playing pool on one of the two tables surrounded by leaners and rattan styled couches..
  • A large grassed an uncovered picnic area with barbecue styled wooden tables which comes into its own over the busy summer period from mid-December until the end of February.

“In regards to the last point, over the past five years, the tavern’s owners have developed an extensive marketing calendar for the business that not only sustains turnover during the quieter winter months, but which has also substantially grown revenues over the already well patronised summer season,” Rendell says.

“Their approach to marketing is very smart, and has been designed to offer something different to multiple niche sections of the local community while acting as a tourism magnet to draw Aucklanders up for the weekend.

“The Duke of Marlborough Tavern is now an active supporter of varied events like the Country Rock Music Festival in May, the Jazz and Blues Music Festival and Hot Rod Show in August, the Birdman flying tournament in July, two fishing tournaments in March, the Bay of Islands Walking Weekend in October, the Russell Downhill Trolley Derby in March, the Russell Santa Parade in December, an outdoor cinema showing classic movies throughout summer, and the Miss Russell beauty pageant in January.”

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Aerial view of the Duke of Marlborough Tavern which is for sale in Russell, Bay of Islands. 

Rendell says the business benefits from sitting adjacent to a large car park immediately outside its front door which permits many of the community events like the display of hot rod cars or the Santa parade floats to be parked on show so patrons can wander around, then pop into the tavern for a bite to eat afterward.

“Combined, these sponsored events and attractions bring in almost $170,000 annually in revenue for the business and demonstrate the value of actively serving as a cornerstone of the community. In addition, the Tavern’s sponsorship commitments have created an incredible amount of goodwill among the Russell population.”

Rendell said the modern decor of the tavern results in it being well used during the year for a number of community events and family functions like weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

“Hiring the Duke of Marlborough Tavern is a cost-effective alternative to some of the more high-end lodge and hotel facilities in Russell which are limited when it comes to serving smaller numbers of guests simultaneously.

“This is where the tavern’s ‘three zone’ approach comes to the fore with clients offered a choice in the style of setting for their function and the business having the ability to upscale seating and serving configurations according to guest numbers.”

The tavern’s kitchen has been fitted out with commercial grade equipment to serve diners and in summer, the grassed lawn allows functions and special events to be held under an open sided marquee.

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One of the bars in the Duke of Marlborough Tavern. 

The Duke of Marlborough Tavern operates nine gaming machines in a purpose built gaming room with proceeds fed back into Bay of Islands community groups, schools, and sporting organisations. The tavern also runs the only TAB facility on the Russell peninsula.

Rendell says the business’s operating profit has grown by 82 per cent from the 2012-13 financial year to the just completed 2015 financial year.

For most of the year, the business employs four full time staff growing to 10 full time equivalent staff members over a three week peak period over the Christmas and New Year holidays.  

The Duke of Marlborough Tavern is currently on a six year lease expiring in October 2017. The lease contains two further two-year rights of renewal for a final expiry of September 2021 with the opportunity for that term to be extended. The annual rent is $58,200 plus GST per annum and operational expenditure.

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Chester Rendell, Bayleys.