The inaugural Wellington On a Plate festival has boosted business and morale for the city’s hospitality industry at a challenging time, participants says.
Michele Cole, Business Development Director at festival sponsor Holiday Inn Wellington, said the hotel’s restaurant, Plate, had seen a 62% increase in lunch covers compared to the same time previous years.
Her experience was echoed by Soi’s Tania Siladi, who said Wellington On a Plate had given local restaurants and produce suppliers a timely and much-needed boost.
“Our customer numbers for August have tripled compared to those in the past three months and we feel a large part of that is due to our participation in DINE Wellington. The event has created huge interest, a positive feeling and general ‘buzz’ in the local hospitality industry and given people a new reason to dine.”
Museum Hotel owner Chris Parkin estimated business at the hotel’s Hippopotamus restaurant had been up 35-40% as a result of the festival.
“If this is the first year I can’t imagine what it will grow to in five years’ time. The rest of New Zealand will be fasting for weeks beforehand so as not to miss even one calorie of this foodie extravaganza.”
Osteria del Toro co-owner Mike Egan said Wellington On a Plate had exposed the restaurant to a whole new market segment, with set prices giving customers the confidence to try something new.
“Lots of people who don’t normally dine out or stick to a regular place came in.”
Osteria del Toro’s $35 Greek banquet dinner had been a “huge hit”, with nearly half the restaurant ordering it one Saturday night, Mr Egan said.
Events fared well too, with most selling out within days of tickets being released.
Susan McLeary of Zest Food Tours said all but one of the company’s 14 tours sold out
“We could easily have sold some tours two or three times over. August is usually a quiet month but 2009 guest numbers were more than double 2008 levels which is an excellent result for a small company.”
Ticket sales for Beervana were almost double last year, with about 3500 people passing through the doors during the two-day event at the Wellington Town Hall.
Wellington On a Plate spokesperson Sarah Meikle said organisers had been overwhelmed by the success and support the festival has received in its inaugural year.
“It’s been a real Wellington effort – from the industry who helped develop such an incredible programme and the media who were so enthusiastic in spreading word, through to the locals getting out and making the most of it. They say you can’t beat Wellington on a good day, but it’s this kind of spirit and attitude that proves you can’t beat Wellington on any day.”
Wellington On a Plate 2010 will run from August 14-29.
Notes for editors:
1. Wellington On a Plate 2009 ran from August 17-30. The festival was a new initiative from Positively Wellington Tourism and Grow Wellington, who have established the festival to develop culinary tourism in the capital and showcase the city’s food and beverage sector.