THE Invercargill Licensing Trust (ILT) has answered patrons’ calls by stepping in at the eleventh hour to retain the TAB at the Northern Tavern.
However, ILT chief executive Chris Ramsay said it would come at a cost of “tens of thousands” of dollars and only time would tell if the new model could be sustained in the long term.
The government-owned betting agency currently leases the site from the ILT at the north Invercargill tavern.
It is one of only two outlets left in Invercargill which are operated by the TAB. The other is the South Invercargill TAB.
Other establishments either have self-service TAB machines or are looked after by staff as part of the bar.
Mr Ramsay said the TAB informed the ILT a couple of weeks ago it would be exiting the Northern Tavern site on July 1.
“I probably wasn’t surprised, but I was certainly disappointed,” he said.
It continues a trend from the TAB to push punters towards online betting or self-service machines.
After canvassing Northern Tavern patrons about the likely TAB closure, Mr Ramsay said it was clear those patrons were eager for the site to remain as a stand-alone TAB.
The ILT board agreed it would take over running the TAB at the Northern Tavern from July 1.
The ILT will now employ staff to continue to operate the outlet.
Mr Ramsay said the plan was for the ILT to run the TAB until the end of the year and then reassess the situation, as to whether it had developed enough support for the ILT to continue to operate it.
“At the end of the day we are not a charity. We need to run our establishments as a business so we can continue to return the money to the community.”
TAB business development manager Dan Wigley, who the ILT has been dealing with, said he was not in a position to comment on the situation. He referred the Southland Express to the TAB communications team, however comment wasn’t able to be sourced before deadline.
Meanwhile, the ILT’s Waikiwi Tavern has earned recognition on a national scale.
The construction quality of the tavern and adjacent restaurant The Foundry received a silver award in the retail category at the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards staged in Auckland.
Built by Henderson Construction and opened in November 2016, the project was rated across all aspects, including design functionality and aesthetics, durability, quality, cost, health and safety, environment and timeframe. The total score of 890 out of 1000 was just 10 points shy of a gold award.
Of the 88 projects nominated for the national awards, the Rydges Restaurant and Bar refurbishment by Naylor Love Construction in Queenstown was the only other southern success, earning a gold award.