Restaurant and event business within Devonport landmark

5:00 AM Saturday January 30, 2016 Colin Taylor

McHugh’s of Cheltenham restaurant and function business has an idyllic waterfront location at Devonport’s Cheltenham Beach.

A restaurant and function business that has been operating successfully for over thirty years within a leased historic building set on the foreshore of Cheltenham Beach on Auckland’s North Shore is now for sale.  

McHugh’s of Cheltenham at 46 Cheltenham Rd, Devonport, is located within a local seaside landmark facing out to Rangitoto Island and the Waitemata Harbour dating back over 100 years.

“With a stunning outlook, the sale offers a new operator the chance to build off years of success or relaunch a new chapter for this waterfront gem,” says Lindsey Holcombe, business broker with Clyth MacLeod in Epsom, who is marketing the going concern business for sale via expressions of interest closing at 4 pm, on March 1 – unless it sells earlier by negotiation.

Holcombe says the history of the building dates back to 1909 when Alex Alison, the manager of the Devonport Steam Ferry Company, proposed the erection of a kiosk and bathing sheds at Cheltenham Beach. However this was fiercely resisted by locals who did not want their rates spent on a facility for visitors. The council conducted a poll and the objectors were defeated by a mere 15 votes.

By 1910, local architect, Edward Bartley, had prepared plans for a kiosk and bathing sheds and in 1913, the council built an adapted version for £1200 which included tearooms, bathing sheds and conveniences. Mayor William Handley cut the ribbon on August 13, 1913, and the tearooms were opened for trade under the management of a Mr S. G. Waters.

A newspaper report of the opening, praised the spacious dimensions of the tearooms and “the cosy room for private parties” which adjoined the tearooms – along with the 16 cubicles for dressing and public conveniences. For sixpence, bathers would be provided with a bathing suit and towel, and one hour’s use of a cubicle, with deck chairs hired out at sixpence a day.

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The dining room within McHugh’s of Cheltenham.

During the 1920s the daytime business was extended to offer evening entertainment and social events including dancing and live jazz bands.

“Major changes took place from 1958 onwards when the business upgraded from being a tearooms to a reception venue and the name changing in 1963 to Cheltenham Receptions,” Holcombe says. “Further modifications took place in the following years and the rooms became used almost exclusively for weddings, balls and other functions.”

In 1981 John McHugh took over the lease of the building and renamed it McHugh’s of Cheltenham - refurbishing the building and opened up its southern corner to give guests wide views of the southern end of Cheltenham beach and North Head.

“Over the past 35 years, John has built a reputation for excellence in food and service in one of the North Shore’s most prestigious beach locations,” Holcombe says.

“These days McHugh’s is a standalone wedding and corporate function venue and a licensed restaurant that can host from 50 to 160 guests - offering lunches seven days a week and a Sunday evening roast dinner service from 5.30 pm to 8 pm. The restaurant prepares an extensive buffet menu allowing diners to take their time and enjoy the scenery.”

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McHugh’s of Cheltenham features views of Rangitoto and the Waitamata Harbour. 

Being within easy access of the Auckland CBD via regular ferry services, McHugh’s is also the ideal location for corporate retreats, seminars and company functions.

A number of packages are available with events hosted by McHugh’s including product launches, conferences, casino nights, school leaving celebrations and anniversaries.

“The experienced team at McHugh’s will work with clients to tailor occasions ranging from serving canapes and cocktail parties, to full seated dinners and dancing the night away,” says Holcombe.

The business is currently run under management and has bookings for weddings and functions stretching into January next year.  

Sales from the 2014-2015 financial year were $1,206,674 with the facility reporting a 64 per cent gross profit.

McHugh’s has a full restaurant licence and liquor licence with licensing hours from 12 midday to 1 am the following morning seven days a week.

“A new owner could continue with the current buffet lunch and dinner menu or take advantage of this special location to set up an upmarket beachside dining restaurant,” Holcombe says.  

The property is owned by Auckland Council with McHugh’s having a current term of nine years with a final expiry date of July 11, 2025.  “However with the original lease dated July 12, 1989, there is every expectation that a further lease term may be granted after the final expiry date.” The current rent is $97,736 excluding GST per annum with rates charged at $11,794 per annum.

“This is a long established business within a property that has served the North Shore and wider Auckland area for over 100 years,” Holcombe says. “Steeped in local history and heritage it now awaits a new owner to continue and build on the years of success.”