Creating memorable hospitality experiences has become a way of life for Malcolm and Meron Blakey and their Cargo Brewery team.
They recently opened their second Queenstown location at the former Gantley’s Hotel in Arthurs Point taking over the historic goldfields pub and garden bar and launching a vibrant café as part of the operation.
“Gantley’s is the perfect spot for engaging locals and visitors and during winter it’s the ideal après ski location. You can pop in on the way up the mountain for coffee and one of our bacon and egg or haloumi breakfast rolls and then in the afternoon experience the beer garden bar and pub with hearty and wholesome meals and roaring fires,” says Malcolm.
Cargo Brewery has a reputation for its range of pioneering craft beers brewed at its Waitiri Creek tasting room and beer garden in Gibbston where they also stage live music events.
Malcolm says by opening at Gantley’s as well they can bring the Cargo brand experience to a wider audience.
“Our vision for Cargo has evolved in recent years from just producing award-winning craft beers to creating unique environments where people can come and enjoy the beer. It gives us the freedom to curate an entire Cargo experience based around the beer, exceptional food, good mood and lighting and genuine hospitality.”
Meron, Malcolm and Cargo marketing manager Graeme Kinlan worked during the recent lock down period to refurbish an area of the historic pub into an inviting and lively café.
“It was an amazing time to be creative and we upcycled everything out of the pub and an old cottage out the back,” says Meron. “We made the café bar out of recycled walls from the cottage, the kitchen sign is a door from an old cabinet and we used iron found in the garden for hooks and handles to hang things from.”
“It took five coats of paint to freshen up the walls and the addition of Turkish rugs, cushions and dried flower wreaths made from the garden have created a cosier, lighter interior and warm, homely ambience.”
The café is open daily from 7.00am with a pub menu available from 12.00pm until late.
“Mornings are very much focused around the café with lots of people coming in for coffee, snacks and sweet treats and in the afternoon the focus moves to the pub and garden bar,” she says. “We invited over 100 locals to the pub to taste test our dishes when we opened which gave creative feedback. The pub menu has homely and hearty dishes –we make everything from scratch including all our sauces, chutneys and aiolis, focusing on home style elements so it’s not just simply pub food.”
As a meeting place Cargo at Gantley’s is appealing to locals.
“They have really embraced the space and really value having a local pub where the neighbourhood can get together and enjoy each other’s company,” says Meron.
Beer Garden Après Ski
Since 1863 Gantley’s, Queenstown’s oldest hotel, has been dedicated to hospitality, serving travellers and goldminers in the early days.
The pub is surrounded by an extensive garden area with outdoor fires where an inviting outdoor bar area designed for après ski has been established.
“For après ski afternoons and nights we are lighting up the garden and creating a really cool outside bar area with heaters, fires and rugs to make this one of the most engaging areas of Cargo at Gantley’s during winter,” says Malcolm. “People can come straight off the mountain, park outside and walk into the outside bar area and order a mulled wine or beer while still in their ski gear.”
The full range of Cargo craft beers are available on tap at Gantley’s along with an extensive beer, wines and spirit list.
“Customers can find the same great classic Cargo beers here along with our other more adventurous brews that our brewer is crafting from the hops we grow at Waitiri Creek. We are really proud to be able to continue the hospitality that started here so long ago and extend that into a new era with a fresh look and feel to the place – it’s where we have always wanted Cargo to be.”