August 4 2015
Queenstown’s Future Bars launch new venture in Auckland
Premier Queenstown hospitality business Future Bars has this week (August 3) received the keys to its latest venture,
bursting onto the Auckland stage for the very first time.
The company - owner of iconic Queenstown bars Minus 5 Ice Bar, Rhino’s Ski Shack and the newly invigorated Little
Blackwood – has taken over existing Auckland establishments Bar 151 and United Kitchen.
Situated in trendy hospo hotspot Ponsonby, the businesses will continue to trade ‘as are’ for two months until they’re
revamped, re-branded and re-launched as part of the Future Bars portfolio.
Although clearly “pumped” by the start of their Auckland endeavour, co-owner James Ace acknowledges they’re entering
into an “extremely competitive” market.
“We’re a small business with a massive vision and want to be up there with the very best in the industry,” he said.
“We’re ready to take on the big boys and see Auckland as a natural progression for us.
“It’s important to get this right but we’re confident we’ve got the experience, the drive, the flair and the passion to
make this a success.”
Situated in the heart of Ponsonby, opposite Ponsonby Central, Chapel Bar and Mexico, the Future Bars offering will sit
side-by-side with some of the country’s best hospitality brands, people and experiences.
“Ponsonby fits us like a glove - it’s buzzing, there’s a great vibe with a mix of locals and corporates and lots of
businesses close by that complement us perfectly,” said James.
As part of the company’s future growth strategy, James headed to Auckland earlier in the year to seek out potential
sites and was “stoked” when this opportunity popped up.
“The timing was perfect – it’s a wicked venue and spot-on location so it all just clicked into place,” he said.
Dipping its toes into the Auckland market for the first time, it’s also taking on the foodie market for the first time
with the running the restaurant.
“The restaurant aspect of the takeover’s really exciting; all our directors have previous experience in restaurants so
we’re pretty comfortable with it,” said James.
“We plan to introduce our concept over the next two months, gather feedback and listen to what people are saying, then
aim for a re-opening in November, just in time for summer.
“We’re playing around with the idea of opening up the two premises, rather than keeping them separate, so it’ll be an
all-encompassing venue with food, cocktails, craft beer, wine and music.”
The company recently celebrated 10 years in business since launching Minus 5 Ice Bar, a Queenstown ‘must-do’ featuring
over 18 tonnes of crystal clear ice architecture.
Neighbouring Little Blackwood, freshly re-branded from Queenstown institute The Boiler Room is an imitate venue with a
big personality, centred around delicious cocktails, wine and canapés.
Both venues open up the opportunity for events and functions to spill out onto Steamer Wharf, a truly unique venue in
its own right. The waterside views and mountain visas are second-to-one and make for an unforgettable backdrop to any
event. The internal atrium has space for live music, additional food and beverage services as well opportunities for
theming and production, tapping into Queenstown’s growing C market.
Just a few minutes’ walk away is Rhino’s Ski Shack. Tucked away off Queenstown Mall, the bar has quickly become the
resort’s top après ski destination with casual drinks and eats.
The company’s also heavily invested in events, brand management and activation, consulting on everything from creative
design to digital marketing and signage. Its out-of-the-box ‘pop-up bar’ package has been popular with world-class
events such as the BMW New Zealand Golf Open.
All three Future Bars co-owners are fully invested in the Auckland venture. Managing Director James works alongside
creative manager Jason Whalley and general manager Burt Haines.
The 12 existing staff at the Ponsonby establishment are being retained including the venue manager and head chef.
“While we work our magic, pop in and see us at Bar 151 and United Kitchen as we’d love to shout you a bite to eat, beer
or cocktail in exchange for your thoughts and feedback,” said James.
“We’re very excited to be rubbing shoulders with some of the very best in the business and believe our new offering will
absolutely complement our neighbours.”
Bar 151 and United Kitchen are located at 149 to 151 Ponsonby Road, Auckland City.