Category Archives: Christchurch Rebuild

SKOPE the “Rolls Royce of Refrigeration”

SKOPE is helping keep Christchurch’s hottest new places to eat and drink, perfectly cold.

Renowned Chef Philip Kraal has set up three new establishments overlooking the banks of the Avon River: a restaurant, a pizza-café and a bar.

While each venue presented a unique challenge in refrigeration, Kraal describes SKOPE’s work as “the Rolls Royce” of refrigeration as far as a restauranteur is concerned.

“It looks great, it performs great, and the service is fantastic as well. We are looking at other operations and we know we’ll never go with anything else because it’s just too easy for us”.bamboozle

Kraal’s new establishments are quickly becoming three of the most popular places to eat and drink in the city.  Bamboozle restaurant offers a funky Asian-Fusion dining experience, while the Whet Drinking Room is the perfect place to consume craft beer, gin and whiskey in style. For a more relaxed meal,  pizza-café Johnny Sausage (named after the Infamous American mobster) is a relaxed New York inspired venue to enjoy bagels, coffee, beer, wine and, obviously, pizza.

The most unique innovation from SKOPE was in the Whet Drinking Room where our engineers designed and installed a custom made ‘snow rail’, for customers to rest their drinks and keep them icy cold, and a ‘ice cave’ which keeps a wide variety of gin blends perfectly chilled.

Ice rail

“SKOPE started testing and after about three months of testing different ways of doing it, we ended up with a product and it works absolutely fantastically,” Kraal says. “It’s very unique – we’re the only place in Christchurch that has them”.

Installed in the restaurants are SKOPE under-counter chillers, display cabinets, and Pegasus pizza preparation units. In the bars, as well as Backbars for merchandising.

3 MISA Cool Rooms were custom fitted into a challenging triangular space in the building’s basement carpark. One unit is required to house up to 50 kegs, the other for fruit and vegetable refrigeration, and a freezer with a sliding door for space efficiency.

“What that allowed us was to fit everything in but allowed space around the  triangular shape to fit dry goods in so it’s worked out perfectly for us,” Kraal says. “But the most important thing is that it was installed from start to finish in a day and a half. Fantastic”.

Find out more by watching SKOPE’s video on Bamboozle, the Whet Drinking Room and Johnny Sausage.

From Thai Takeaways to the Paragon of Spices

Spice Paragon Restaurant Bush Inn

It’s not often that we find a pair of 34 year old best friends at the head of a rapidly growing restaurant and bar empire, but that’s the magic formula behind Christchurch based BBK Group.

Founded and lead by Bundit Kijpalakorn and Bo Khemarangsan, the pair started out buying and running the Thai Orchid takeaway shop in Stanmore Road while they were both still university students, then parlayed that experience into a chain of businesses that includes Japanese inspired Hachi Hachi (in Bush Inn, Riccarton and newly opened in Victoria Street), Thai fusion Spice Paragon (Bush Inn and Victoria Street), and the Sushi Co (Bush Inn).

Bundit’s NZ story began when his family moved to New Zealand from Thailand in 1995 and he went to school at St Kevin’s in Oamaru. Five years later, he moved to Christchurch to study engineering at UC and met fellow student Bo, who quickly became his best friend and business partner.

Rather than join their peers frequenting the local bars, Bundit and Bo invested their earnings in visiting nicer restaurants and traveling around the country to dine – every meal was market research as they developed a clear idea of what they liked and what worked – and what didn’t.

They took careful note of general environment, menu and service at each establishment and have put that research to good use in each new business they open.

After cutting their teeth in takeaways, they planned and developed the concept for Spice Paragon over several years, finally opening in April 2012 in the Bush Inn Centre. The timing was perfect, launching something very different in a city that was short of great places to eat after the earthquakes of 2010 and February 2011.

The focus of Spice Paragon was to provide a high end restaurant and bar that offered the very best of fresh, locally sourced Thai fusion food. Paragon is very different from the former Thai takeaway in all but one respect – the brilliant chef.

From virtually the first day of business it was obvious that Spice Paragon had the formula right, packed with diners every night making bookings essential.

Bundit and Bo drew on the success of Spice Paragon in that location to open sit-down  Japanese sushi restaurant  Hachi Hachi, then take over the St Pierre’s takeaway sushi bar and rebrand it as The Sushi Co.

Bundit says business for both outlets has been brisk, and puts success down to the quality of the food on offer. “You will find sushi varieties that are not available at any other outlets in the city,” he comments.

The Bush Inn Centre has flourished post-quake, along with Christchurch’s other malls, due to the demolition of most of the city’s central shopping and dining locations.

Onwards and upwards to their next outlet, a second Hachi Hachi, which recently joined other food and drink outlets in the increasingly busy Victoria Street. This restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also has a bar, designed to appeal to people wanting a relaxed lunch or casual evening meal.

Once again, they got the formula right. “On the second day we opened, we had a queue of workers out the door wanting to buy sushi for breakfast,” Bundit says.

Fortuitously, the new Hachi Hachi is located right across the road from three major construction projects, benefiting now from the workers on site and ultimately from the new office workers who will be located there in a few month’s time.

Further down Victoria Street on the old Asko site, BBK’s latest project opens this week – a brand new Spice Paragon, alongside the Khao San Road Bar.

Building on the lessons learned from the first Spice Paragon, Bundit and his executive chef have been developing the menu for the last six months, carefully wine matching and ensuring that all kinds of diners will be well catered for.

The menu includes bar bites and miang designed to accompany drinks, small sharing plates designed for lunchtime dining and larger sharing plates for evening meals.

The classic ‘shared meal’ approach is further encouraged by the long dining tables, which are perfect for groups, or for smaller parties who are happy to share their dining space.

“All of this is about recreating a traditional Thai family dining environment,” says Bundit. “In Thailand, dining is a very social event and we enjoy sharing dishes, sampling lots of different flavours and eating together.

The Khao San Road bar, named after the popular Bangkok entertainment location, is designed to cater for local workers wanting to socialise after work and also addresses one of the issues at the Bush Inn Spice Paragon – not making the bar area large enough.

“We thought that a 20 seat bar would be enough, since no other Thai restaurants in town had a bar at all. But we found that people wanted to have a drink before their meal and the bar is always busy.”

The new restaurant will have seating for up to 140 diners, while the bar can handle up to about 100 patrons.

 Secret of Success

Bundit says his approach to building the business has been to find other successful business people as role models – mostly outside of the hospitality industry.

“I see what we do as no different from any other product – each of my staff is a sales person and what we serve is our product.”

He also relies on a small group of carefully chosen suppliers and contractors as the core of the business.

“We find the best local suppliers and build a relationship with them, which makes it easier to open each new business.”

Bundit also consistently installs the best quality equipment in each restaurant, which includes SKOPE fridges and chillers.

“We emphasise fresh produce in our menus, so having chillers we can rely on is essential to the quality of our food,” he said.

The new Khao San Road bar also features SKOPE  bar fridges as a distinctive design feature.

“We choose equipment that is high quality and from local suppliers where we can, so we know they are reliable and the servicing is not going to be an issue.”

He also really appreciates the high level of personal service he gets from SKOPE.

Perhaps most importantly, Bundit puts their success down to the fact that he is working with his best friend every day and he gets up in the morning and loves going to work.

“Friendships make the journey worthwhile – it’s not just a job”.

Christchurch’s Saggio di vino Going from Strength to Strength

Being in the restaurant trade can be a rocky road at the best of times. For Lisa Scholz, owner of Christchurch fine dining restaurant Saggio di vino, the last three years have been a combination of stress, insurance company wrangling, council regulation juggling, real estate hunting and finally, designing and opening her dream restaurant next door to her original location.

Located on the corner of Bealey Ave and Victoria Street, Saggio’s was one of the city’s best known restaurants with an enviable customer base of loyal regulars boosted by travelers over the summer months.

The September 2010 earthquake tipped all of that on its head. The building that housed Saggio di vino had been previously earthquake strengthened, so it withstood the 7.1 magnitude quake, but the older building next door, which had just been emptied of tenants by its new owner ready for renovations, did not.

Within 10 days of the quake, developer Richard Driver had made a decision to demolish, got the necessary consents and was underway. In the meantime, Scholz’s restaurant business was on indefinite hold as the landlord of her building decided to repair the corner site, starting with the erection of scaffolding and the removal of two walls.

Just a few months later, in February 2011, the second major quake saw the building become no longer viable and Saggio di vino had lost its home. Fortunately, the initial decision to repair meant that there was time to remove the existing kitchen equipment and furniture, including the two SKOPE gastronorm fridges that had been part of the business for the previous 20 years.

In the meantime, the neighbouring property had started construction but the ground floor space had already been leased, so Scholz began the task of trying to find new premises in a city full of broken buildings and other restaurants and cafes looking for new homes.

After 6 months of looking, Scholz placed an advertisement in the Press stating her business was looking for space, and provided her contact details. Within a day or two she had a pile of plans and proposals to consider, most of which were in their very early stages. Despite signing several expression of interest documents, no progress was made till November 2011 when Scholz was contacted by Driver, who told her the previous tenants had fallen through and offered her the space.

“It was bigger than our old restaurant but of course I said yes – it was perfect, to be able to stay in the same location and give our customers something familiar,” Scholz says.

Once the lease was signed, it was all about getting the interior designed, fitted and up and running as quickly as possible, particularly as the business still had staff on the payroll, bills to pay and no income coming in.

The restaurant re-opened for business on June 14, 2012, one of the first businesses to re-open – on virtually the same site, on the periphery of the CBD, but with 60 seats instead of 45 in the old restaurant.

At the time, only a few hotels were up and running, with The George on Park Terrace the only one within walking distance. That meant a tough first year, without the usual tourist business, but the boost of seeing regular customers coming back through the doors more than made up for it.

With the influx of workers involved in the Christchurch rebuild – from engineers to construction workers, and the amount of building activity going on in Victoria Street, the restaurant has been kept busy – and has found no need for a dress code, unlike others in the street.

“Turning people away because of what they are wearing is not hospitality and we are in the hospitality business,” Scholz points out.

She has even adapted their menu to include steak frito – steak and fries cooked in duck fat to cater for the increase in male diners.

“If a worker comes in wanting a meal and a glass of wine, we are certainly not going to send them home to get changed first. Once they have left the area, who knows where they might decide to go for the evening.”

The tourist trade has started to grow again with the re-opening of more hotels in the city, and having a number of bars and restaurants in Victoria Street itself has been a positive for Saggio’s too.

“We always benefit when there are a number of places for people to choose from – it is far better than being the only one in a street.”

Scholz and her partner Yommi Pawelke are positive about the future in Christchurch and believe that things will be largely back to normal within the next two years or so.

They would like to see more developers like Driver pushing projects through in other parts of the city, and look forward to a time when the Gapfiller projects are no longer needed.

Christchurch Agency Keeps Cool with SKOPE

SKOPE fridge at hairyLemon offices

While most of our fridges and freezers find their way into cafes, restaurants and commercial kitchens of various kinds, that’s not the only location you might come across the SKOPE brand.

As the Christchurch rebuild gathers momentum, local businesses like digital agency hairyLemon are moving back into the CBD, into brand new, custom built offices – and SKOPE has a presence there too.

hairyLemon owners Sue Wilkinson and Graham Dockrill invested significant time and funds into the fit-out of their new premises, after spending the last three years in less than ideal office space in Hornby.

“Moving back to the CBD was a huge priority for us in 2013,” says Wilkinson. “We had to leave our previous Victoria Street office space following the February 2011 earthquake and we were very focused on getting back into the city as soon as a suitable building became available.”

The new premises at 134 Victoria Street are in a Sheppard + Rout designed building nicknamed “the Ark” during construction, due to the innovative laminated timber frame, developed in conjunction with Professor Andy Buchanan from University of Canterbury’s school of engineering.

Buchanan and colleagues Associate Professor Stefano Pampanin and Dr Alessandro Palermo received UC’s Innovation Medal as a result of their pioneering work on a whole new system of earthquake-resistant buildings using post-tensioned structural timber, referred to as pres-lam (pre-stressed laminated timber).

One of the key considerations with bringing a team of 25 staff back into the city was the safety of the building they were moving back into, according to Wilkinson and Dockrill.

Thanks to the engineering and construction, 134 Victoria Street ticked those boxes, as well as providing the perfect blank canvas for the second major consideration – a dynamic and visually appealing office space that fitted the company’s profile as an innovative digital agency.

hairyLemon office hairyLemon interior

“Design and human factors are also very important for us and our staff, so for the new fit-out we chose to work with the same team who designed our previous Victoria Street offices.

“We enjoy working with KVA Design because we are able to give them a very loose brief and somehow they understand our personality and manage to manifest it into the space for us,” Wilkinson said.

The design theme was based around ‘bringing the outdoors in’ which inspired the use of green and yellow as the primary colours, areas of ‘grass’ carpeting, living plant walls and large imagery of autumn trees in the meeting rooms.

Other custom features include sound proof “pods” for quiet work and collaboration time, a full height blackboard wall in the kitchen/break out space, high tech Evoko units and Epsom smart boards for meeting rooms, and passive lighting.

Looking after the needs of staff and clients in the new space also meant providing kitchen and refreshment facilities and that’s where the company chose to install their SKOPE bar fridge, a full height fridge for staff use and a third under counter fridge in the board room to hold wine and other beverages.

Custom graphics created by hairyLemon’s in house designers were added as frosting and to the illuminated sign panel of the large stand up fridge.

hairyLemon fridge  SKOPE bar fridge living wall hairyLemon

Welcome to The Map of Christchurch

The Map Christchurch

We have been supporting the Christchurch Rebuild for the last three years, working alongside business owners, chefs, architects, restaurant and interior designers in the hospitality sector to help rebuild the industry.

As a sign of SKOPE’s continued commitment to helping the city of Christchurch with the rebuild, we are proud to present The Map. Continue reading