North Waikato pub rises from the ashes

North Waikato News - - COMMUNITY COOKBOOK - JOHN BOYN­TON

Af­ter be­ing gut­ted by fire in 2014, the pop­u­lar Muddy Waters Ir­ish bar and restau­rant was re­duced to a charred log-frame skele­ton.

But the Mercer pub’s owner James Oliver was de­ter­mined to get the busi­ness back up and run­ning, spend­ing months scrubbing the logs by hand to re­store the bar to its for­mer glory.

Now af­ter more than two years of re­build, the Muddy Wa­ter in the north Waikato is back in busi­ness. It re­opened its doors on Fri­day.

James and his wife Liane have had to re-build their lives af­ter los­ing both their busi­ness and home in a blaze that re­quired more than 80 fire fighters and 15 fire ap­pli­ances to ex­tin­guish in June, 2014.

‘‘The night it burnt, it’s a sit­u­a­tion when you look back on it where we were prob­a­bly stunned mul­lets re­ally - it takes a long time for it to sink in to be hon­est,’’ James said.

Liane said the cou­ple es­caped the blaze in the mid­dle of a cold, wet win­ter’s night with just the clothes they had on their back.

The cou­ple’s liv­ing quar­ters above Muddy Waters con­tained all their pos­ses­sions, pho­to­graphs and fam­ily me­men­tos.

‘‘We would hate it to hap­pen to any­one, you don’t re­alise how trau­matic it is,’’ Liane said.

The cou­ple bought the busi­ness in Mercer in 2001, when it was bank­rupt. How­ever, over the years they were able to turn it into a suc­cess­ful and prof­itable busi­ness, James said.

‘‘It was quite suc­cess­ful at that stage, then right at the height of your suc­cess it’s blown away from you - it’s hard to take.’’

The fire was caused by a hot-

‘‘The night it burnt, it’s a sit­u­a­tion when you look back on it where we were prob­a­bly stunned mul­lets re­ally - it takes a long time for it to sink in to be hon­est.’’

wa­ter cylin­der fault in the back of the build­ing. In­sur­ance cov­ered the dam­age caused by the fire and de­spite the lengthy process to re­build, Jamie said they had in­vested too much into the busi­ness to let it go.

‘‘To walk away from that would’ve been soul-de­stroy­ing, we would have lost all we fought for.’’

The build­ing had to be re-built with a new toi­let block, ceil­ing, roof, kitchen, floors and liv­ing quar­ters.

Liane and James Oliver have re­built their busi­ness more than two years af­ter it was de­stroyed by fire.

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