Small-town bar’s $2m makeover
‘‘The dress code hasn’t bothered anyone.’’
No shorts, active wear or sneakers are allowed in a North Canterbury heritage building now transformed into an upmarket bar.
Rangiora’s Ivory Bar, which opened last month in the old Northern A&P building, has a strict dress code: no jandals, no shorts, no active wear or sneakers and jeans.
The project has been a three-year labour of love for the family that has owned the building for 15 years.
It suffered severe earthquake damage in Canterbury’s earthquakes and was earmarked for demolition to make way for a road, but the Beulink family decided to transform it into their dream venue.
Rob Beulink, a cosmetic surgeon, said he had dreamed of opening a bar years ago, but the plan was halted when he and wife Ruth started a family.
Now 20 years later, the dream has come to fruition with his children at the helm of the project.
Son Elliot, a recently-qualified architect, designed the renovation, while son Campbell, a lawyer, is the general manager.
The bar itself is designed to a neo classical aesthetic – think art deco and The Great Gatsby.
Ruth Beulink said the theme was inspired by a mirror she found in a shop in Amberley three years ago.
‘‘I saw this mirror and Rob and I just looked at each other and we thought this would be great in an art deco bar. The design grew from that one piece.’’
Almost every fitting in the bar was custom made, including a copper ceiling sourced from Australia after the Beulinks saw a similar one in a bar in Paris.
‘‘That was not easy to install – we did it all ourselves, standing with our hands above our heads, holding it in place while it was erected.’’
The refurbishment cost more than $2 million and the bar is fast becoming known in the area for its cocktails, tapas, champagne and variety of craft beers.
‘‘We started off calling this project ‘the first bar’ and then it became ‘the best bar’. Our family home is also a historic home, it’s a passion for us and means a lot to ensure this renovation was done well,’’ Campbell Beulink said.
Elliot Beulink, who designed the fitout, said it was ‘‘a steep learning curve’’. ‘‘I was still studying at the time and was the first person in my class to lodge a consent.’’
Campbell Beulink said there had been ‘‘great feedback’’.
‘‘People have loved it. The dress code hasn’t bothered anyone. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.
‘‘We had one lady in last week who bought a new dress just to come in and said how lovely it is to have something to dress up for.’’
For Rob Beulink, the dream is almost complete.
‘‘I said while we were doing this that this could be in the top 10 bars in the whole country and who wants to be number 10,’’ he said.
The family said some people had asked them why they wanted to invest in Rangiora.
‘‘A lady in just the other night said ‘this is too good to be in Rangiora’. That honestly made me feel sad,’’ Ruth Beulink said.
‘‘We think North Canterbury is wonderful and has grown and changed so much and Rangiora is the centre of that. This bar is what Rangiora deserves.’’
Rangiora’s Ivory Bar, which opened in an old heritage building last month, is becoming known for its cocktails and tapas.
Art deco styling and quality furnishings abound inside.