Queen­stown foodies open Nel­son ven­ture

Restau­ra­teurs aim to re­peat recipe for success

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES - By SUE FEA

Five years ago Queen­stown teenager Katie Fun­nell started work for long-time Queen­stown restau­ra­teur Tony Robert­son at Hamills in Frank­ton as an 18-yearold trainee. Last month Miss Fun­nell, who has just turned 23, opened her own restau­rant in Nel­son with Mr Robert­son and her part­ner, former Hamill’s chef, English­man Joe Hor­ton. The Styx, named af­ter the Cen­tral Otago val­ley where Miss Fun­nell’s mum Queen­stown nurse Suzy Aitken was raised, is in a prime waterfront spot on Wake­field Quay over­look­ing Port Nel­son. For­merly a ta­pas bar, the site has a che­quered his­tory. It has been va­cant for 21⁄ of the past 3 years. ‘‘Hon­estly, I’ve no idea why,’’ Miss Fun­nell said. ‘‘The lo­cals are just so pleased we’ve opened here. They’ve been really sup­port­ive. ‘‘We have great views over Tas­man Bay and spec­tac­u­lar sun­sets, which can be seen from ev­ery ta­ble. We’ve al­ready had many Queen­stown­ers drop­ping in to say ‘hi’ and sam­ple our hos­pi­tal­ity up here. We look for­ward to see­ing many more in the new year.’’ ‘‘Seafood is be­com­ing very much a main­stay of our menu, much to our sur­prise. We’re very lucky be­cause Talley’s Guy­tons Fish mar­ket is right next door, so we get the pick of the fresh­est seafood landed daily.’’ But there is still a push for prod­ucts from home. Cen­tral Otago wines fea­ture promi­nently along­side Nel­son and Marl­bor­ough drops on the wine list. For Miss Fun­nell it has been a lot of hard work and long hours to get to where she is but her re­laxed na­ture has been a huge plus. Noth­ing gets her too fraz­zled. So when Mr Robert­son ‘‘peer pres­sured’’ her into part­ner­ing in the Nel­son ven­ture with him she said ‘‘ah, al­right then’’ and that was that. ‘‘Katie has a nat­u­ral ap­ti­tude for the in­dus­try,’’ Mr Robert­son said. A good sense of hu­mour helps in hos­pi­tal­ity also. ‘‘I talk a lot, I’m loud and smi­ley,’’ Miss Fun­nell said. She and her part­ner Mr Hor­ton, the head chef, are mak­ing a great team in Nel­son with Mr Robert­son still based in Queen­stown. The Styx is Mr Robert­son’s first foray into the Nel­son mar­ket. The site just ‘‘screamed out’’ for a fam­ily-friendly, lo­cals-ori­ented restau­rant bar. The former New Zealand Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion vice-pres­i­dent is not both­ered by the site’s che­quered past. ‘‘I think if you open a place that ser­vices a tar­geted mar­ket and do it well, then there’s not too much of a prob­lem.’’

En­thu­si­as­tic: The new Queen­stown own­ers of The Styx in Nel­son are, from left, head chef Joe Hor­ton, restau­rant man­ager Katie Fun­nell and co-owner Tony Robert­son.

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