Hospitality hot spot
Together David Warring and Tony Astle rule Victoria Street's hospitality scene and their Stealth Hospitality empire is growing fast with new ventures already underway.
Operating King of Snake, with its legendary skull wallpaper, the ‘Day of the Dead’ themed Mexicanos, Mexican-Spanish cocktail lounge bar The Dirty Land and the exotic Chinwag Eathai, soon Stealth will expand its reach into the prime CBD real estate that is The Terrace.
Developed by Antony Gough, The Terrace is tagged as Christchurch’s new hospitality hot spot. Committed to three projects within the complex, David, Stealth’s chief operating officer, says while things are being kept ‘hush-hush’ for now, it will be worlds apart from the company’s current offerings.
“The Terrace is going to be amazing, Antony has taken the best of everything and combined it into one location – Oxford Terrace has always been the blue-chip hospitality location of Christchurch,” says David.
“And we will be there because we have identified this particular development as the very best of what the CBD of Christchurch will offer in terms of hospitality.”
Having known each other for the better part of two decades, David and Tony decided to join forces just a few short years ago, after carving out careers of their own; amongst other things David worked as a sales manager for the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey Group and currently holds a number of directorships spanning the retail and FMCG industries, while Tony has made a name for himself as one of the country’s top restaurateurs. The duo also work alongside another silent investment partner, who has a global role with a major international brand.
Operating four businesses and 108 staff between them – a number likely to jump to around the 170 mark with the inclusion of The Terrace properties – Stealth Hospitality has worked hard over the last few years to become a standout operator in Christchurch.
Together David Warring and Tony Astle rule Victoria Street’s hospitality scene and their Stealth Hospitality empire is growing fast with new ventures already underway.
However, while the scene that they feature so heavily in – that of post-quake Christchurch – is vastly different from the city’s hospitality movement pre-quake, David says it is of a higher calibre than ever before.
“There are a number of great operators and I think the standard of what is on offer in Christchurch, right across the industry, is probably the best it’s ever been. It’s higher than it was pre-earthquake and it’s continuing to improve.”
However, there are – as is to be expected – some challenges that face hospitality retailers in Canterbury and Stealth is no exception.
Changes to the Local Alcohol Policy (LAP) can make businesses feel as though they are standing on “moving terra firma” and there’s growing concern that the proposed draft LAP will harm good operators like Stealth and impact on the city’s drive to be dynamic and a global city and destination for visitors.
“We’re confident about our businesses but we are not confident about some of the policy and assumptions made by some officials about our industry. Hospitality and entertainment is critical to being an ’edgy’ city and that’s what is needed. We want to work collaboratively with CCC and other entities governing our city – but we need to be able to govern our own businesses without draconian approaches that will only harm the overall aspirations of the city.”
Despite this growing concern about the direction of the draft LAP, David is staying focused on the goal of growing Stealth Hospitality and its footprint around the city and region.
“I think The Terrace will definitely be the premiere location in the CBD of Christchurch, it will likely stand out as being one of, if not the, best hospitality precincts in the entire country, and I think it will probably compete against our colleagues in Sydney and Melbourne as well. Though to be fair, Sydney is suffering as a result of policy that has hindered the ability to be late night and compete on an even playing field.”
The Terrace isn’t the only project on Stealth’s radar at the moment, however. David says the group is always on the lookout for other developments and is currently in negotiations over two other sites.
“Tony is a fiercely creative guy and is always looking for the next opportunity to create so there’s no likelihood of that stopping anytime soon.”