Bottomless booze meal deals catching on in Christchurch

31 Jan 2020

Restaurants are being urged to take care as bottomless brunching catches on in the Garden City. 


Several Christchurch restaurants, mostly in the central city, are advertising bottomless brunch or lunch packages on Fridays to Sundays, while others offer similar deals for special occasions.


 Most are for a two-hour period offering a meal and a range of bottomless alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Prices range from about $45 to $65.



Rowdy Kitchen owners Gabe and Blair McIntyre say they can serve up to 70 bottomless breakfasts on a busy Saturday.


JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

Rowdy Kitchen owners Gabe and Blair McIntyre say they can serve up to 70 bottomless breakfasts on a busy Saturday.

The trend arrived in Auckland from overseas then spread to Christchurch, where many outlets have struggled as an increasing number of businesses compete for patrons.

Typically, restaurants advertising bottomless meals state patrons will be served one drink at a time only when the previous drink is finished.




Botanic on Christchurch's The Terrace serves a bottomless Lusicous Lunch.


ABBIE REID

Botanic on Christchurch's The Terrace serves a bottomless Lusicous Lunch.

Amy McLellan-Minty, from the New Zealand Hospitality Association, said the "bottomless brunch or lavish lunch" concept had become popular and was seen as a good promotion for groups and special occasions.  

"It is normally a weekend-only promotion. The usual stringent host responsibility policies apply, which includes responsible consumption, and ensuring it is well managed and monitored.

McLellan-Minty said members should always check new concepts to make sure they complied with liquor laws. Venues also needed to make guests were aware of the rules when reservations were made, she said. 




Bottomless brunches are becoming a popular trend. (Stock image)


123RF

Bottomless brunches are becoming a popular trend. (Stock image)

The Sale of Liquor Act 2012 says premises cannot serve alcohol to anyone intoxicated. It is also illegal to encourage excessive drinking, or to advertise outside of licensed premises alcohol that is free or discounted 25 per cent or more.

As well at complying with the Act, licensed premises must follow any local body alcohol rules.

Blair McIntyre serves bottomless brunches at the Rowdy Kitchen restaurant and bar he owns with his wife, Gabe McIntyre, in the suburb of Marshland. He said they thought carefully about the concept before introducing it, and learned from other businesses' mistakes.




Miro on Oxford Tce is a popular bottomless brunch spot.


JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

Miro on Oxford Tce is a popular bottomless brunch spot.

"We front-footed it and talked to liquor licensing. We were originally a bit reluctant – we'd seen bottomless breakfasts in Auckland that became very boozy affairs and they ended up having to put intoxicated people out."

McIntyre said their brunches were "very food focused". They managed them by clearly telling guests the alcohol rules and "firmly slowing down fast drinkers" if needed, with patrons drinking at most five to six mimosa-style mixer drinks. Venues breaking the law risked a backlash from other patrons as well as heavy penalties, he said. 

"We want people to have a good time and don't mind if they get a bit giggly, but you want a friendly atmosphere and intoxication hasn't been an issue." 

McIntyre said they can serve up to 70 bottomless breakfasts on a busy Saturday, with groups of women and occasions such as birthdays the biggest market.

"It's created a new market for us, and improved our trade, it's been really positive. This is a hard industry to be in, with very low margins."

Doug Sellman, an Otago University professor and director of the National Addiction Centre at the Christchurch School of Medicine, said while businesses offering such deals were driven by commercial motives, addictive substances such as alcohol should be "strongly regulated rather than intensively commercialised".




The Rowdy Kitchen on Marshland Rd.


JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

The Rowdy Kitchen on Marshland Rd.

Bottomless alcohol offers could trigger harmful use and were "clearly not consistent with the object of the Act, and put businesses at risk of losing their liquor licenses".

"If people choose to use drugs such as alcohol in a low-risk manner they need to attend to the dose, timing and setting," he said. 

"Bottomless alcohol is a call to not attend to the dose of alcohol being consumed but rather 'drink until you drop'."




The Permit Room near Victoria Square in Christchurch serves a bottomless brunch with unlimited gin and tonic, beer, prosecco, mimosas and juice on offer.


JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

The Permit Room near Victoria Square in Christchurch serves a bottomless brunch with unlimited gin and tonic, beer, prosecco, mimosas and juice on offer.

A spokesperson from Christchurch City Council's licensing team said bottomless alcohol offers "come to our attention occasionally" and were assessed on a case-by-case basis to check whether they complied with the laws on alcohol promotion. 

Under the law, business owners or managers can be fined up to $10,000 for encouraging anyone to drink too much alcohol. 

The spokesperson said in testing the law, they would take into account the time and length of a promotion, the range of alcoholic, non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks available, how drinking is managed by the premises, the overall focus of the promotion, and any advertising.



CLICK HERE FOR ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY: Liz McDonald, Senior Reporter, Stuff

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