Queenstown foodies open Nelson venture
Restaurateurs aim to repeat recipe for success
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.