By ROBYN BRISTOW
Kicking back with a tipple and enjoying the ambience of Kaikoura, is proving popular with visitors to Jimmy Armers Beach in the seaside town.
Charli’s mobile bar, believed to be one of a kind in New Zealand, is serving up wine, cider and beer, at a seaside spot, complementing the Kaikoura Seafood Barbecue venue, which has been trading at Jimmy Armers for around two decades.
Charli Rose De Zen brings 20 years bar managing experience to the novel venture which is set up in a Renault van, and says there has been nothing but positive feedback from her customers.
It is canine friendly, complete with treats for them, and Charli has even had a goat and cats on leads visiting.
“It is nice they can bring their friends,” she says.
It took about 9 months to negotiate the red tape, but the Kaikoura District Council eventually gave its tick of approval to the bar which opened about four months ago.
Its been tough due to the lack of visitors because of Covid-19 border restrictions halting the flow of international visitors.
But Charli has nothing but praise for the locals.
“I have had great local support.
“The locals have been wonderful.
” They always are in small towns,” she says.
Charli says she was in bar management in Sydney for 20 years, and then became a florist.
She decided it was time to return home for family and lifestyle reasons, and swore she would not go back into hospitality.
But she is enjoying being back greeting customers again.
Charli worked at Kaikoura Seafood Barbecues and was often asked if they served any beer or wine.
“So many asked that I decided there must be a market for it,” she says.
Charli’s dad Brian Giles has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get the mobile van operating.
He fitted it out at Charli’s direction, and encouraged his daughter every step of the way.
“We bought a big Renault van and I did it out into a bar hoping to get a licence.
The licence has restrictions with no glass being allowed except for the bottles, and its hours are tied to the next door Seafood outlet due to not selling food themselves.
Charli says Kaikoura Seafood Barbecue and her have a great relationship and friendship, and its nice to be on board together.
But they will revisit the licence requirements when it comes up for renewal and look at serving up food to see if it is possible.
“Both mum and dad are key to this venture.
“Mum financed it and Pa did a lot of the leg work.
At present the mobile bar operates from 11am to 7pm, or in the winter 11am to dusk.
There is no lighting so there is no intention of operating in the evenings.