Five Questions for Reg Hennessy

11 Jan 2019

Reg Hennessy, Hospitality New Zealand Rotorua branch president and owner of Hennessy's Irish Bar, shares his predictions, goals and advice for a successful 2019.

How did you first start working in the hospitality industry?

Purely by accident! I was playing and coaching rugby in Australia in the eighties, and through my association with the Victorian Rugby Union (I captained the state’s side for four years) I was offered the opportunity to get into a Port Melbourne pub and that’s been me ever since! I must say that my experience at Port Melbourne was a huge learning experience and taught me so much about the hospitality world.

What’s new for Hennessy’s in 2019?

We completely rebuilt Hennessy’s due to the fact the old pub had an abysmal earthquake rating, and we have expanded both in size and the types of events we can host. 2019 is about more growth and consolidation, and of course we look forward to hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup at Hennessy’s. The demand for this event is already huge.

Proudest moment in 2018?

Hennessy’s was nominated in the Irish Pubs Global awards, which recognise the world’s best Irish pubs. We made the final eight in three categories of their awards! Worldwide there were more than 24,000 online nominations. We put it down to our activities during the 2017 Lion’s tour which was hugely successful for us.

What is the secret to staff retention in the hospitality industry?

Our formula is simple; work with your staff. The best training is hands-on teaching and training. Hennessy’s is a family business where both my partner and I are heavily involved in the day to day running, along with Hillary, my daughter and our bar manager (the best bar manager you could ever want). We work closely with all our staff, many of whom have grown into long-term employees.

What are your food and beverage trend predictions for Rotorua in 2019?

Onwards and upwards I hope! Rotorua and surrounding districts are seeing huge growth in both domestic and international tourists. While we see fads and fashions come and go, value and quality are always paramount for the many visitors to our area.

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