One of the oldest bars in Auckland is celebrating its 125th Anniversary today and despite the impact of Covid in the hospitality industry, its owner is determined to mark the occasion.
The historic Shakespeare Hotel, Restaurant and Bar in Albert Street is expecting more than 100 people to attend its anniversary, including famous faces like New Zealand chef Brett McGregor and life-long customers, like the 89-year-old writer Kevin Ireland.
“When I was a mere student I came here accidentally. My friend and I came down from Auckland University, we had just enrolled.
“We thought about looking for a beer, we walked around and we came to this place. We thought – that’s what we want”.
Now, 70 years later, Ireland comes religiously to The Shakespeare every Friday.
Another regular customer, the architect Paul Litterick, says the place is not only a great part of Auckland’s story, but surrounded with style.
“It’s delightful! It’s filled with soul things. It’s one of Auckland’s gems.”
Sunny Kaushal bought the place in 2017, and he said even located in the middle of the Auckland’s City Rail Link works and with all the Covid impact, he has not given up.
“Over this period we lost over $2 million and the times were just very difficult for us. We were just hanging by a thread and it also took toll on our mental health.
“But one thing was there. My team stayed strong and we did not let any of our team members go. We supported those 18 families as part of Shakespeare’s family.”
The business has recently been a victim of Auckland’s burglaries.
In late April, the place was broken into and registration cards with sensitive information were stolen. The situation made BNZ consider withdrawing its merchant facilities, but Kaushal said that the bank has been supporting the business.
“We have a good relation with BNZ. It was an unfortunate situation that the burglary happened, and a lot of crime is happening right now in business around the country … we were also targeted multiple times, which is beyond our control, but we were able to sort it out.
“We have the best practices in place and we have also enhanced our security systems and monitoring as well.”
Despite all challenges, the 125th anniversary of The Shakespeare is expected to be a huge success, and bring along new and old generations together.