New look for the Com­mon Room

Hastings Leader - - News -

The Com­mon Room bar is re­launch­ing half of its iconic premises, thanks to some high­ly­tal­ented lo­cal artists.

Af­ter six years on the up­per east side of Hast­ings, Com­mon Room, voted Best Lo­cal in the Bay four years in a row, is un­leash­ing a new feel.

Pro­pri­etor Gerard Bar­ron calls the new look “dystopic Mi­ami mo­tel circa 1966”.

“We are ask­ing our pa­trons to imag­ine a time when the jun­gle takes over the cool hang outs and the only peo­ple left alive are crazy artists,” he says.

Dar­ryl “DLT” Thom­son, hip hop iden­tity and graf­fiti artist, has taken up the spray cans and left a wall-sized tiki as his re­sponse to the new look. It’s ren­dered in rock ‘n’ roll red and black.

Award-win­ning artist Kate White has gone deep green, work­ing over ex­ist­ing mu­ral work to cre­ate an imag­ined jun­gle, bring­ing the out­side in.

“We wanted to bring this idea of cool, green and lush in­doors as a re­treat and a sanc­tu­ary in sum­mer,” Bar­ron said.

“Peo­ple are look­ing for es­cape dur­ing the hot days in the Bay, so we’ve gone a kind of an­tipar­adise to coun­ter­act this awe­some place we live in.”

Hast­ings’ favourite wa­ter­ing hole was a trail-blazer in stock­ing mainly craft beers.

Bar­ron said that was driven by a de­sire to of­fer peo­ple a choice and sup­port in­de­pen­dent op­er­a­tors.

“For decades we have been drink­ing brown swill — that was part of the Kiwi drink­ing cul­ture be­cause we didn’t have any op­tions.

“At the start I had peo­ple come in who were Tui drinkers but it’s chang­ing and now they wouldn’t drink any­thing else ex­cept craft beers.”

When he opened, he said Lion and DB tried to sign him up to their lines.

“They want your soul — you get all the beer lines and sweet­en­ers like fridges, but you get tied up in a five-year con­tract and can only stock their beers — I al­ways wanted to give cus­tomers a choice and sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses.”

Mean­while, the new old half of Com­mon Room opens to­day just in time for the start of sum­mer. And, rather than a rib­bon, a string of barbed Kwire will be cut to mark the oc­ca­sion.

PHOTO / PAUL TAY­LOR

Gerard Bar­ron, owner of the Com­mon Room, with artist Kate White prep­ping for the bar’s makeover.

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