The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Wellington craft beer bar Hashigo Zake announces closure

Wellington beer bar Hashigo Zake is set to its doors for good on March 8, with owners citing COVID-19 and Wellington Water roadworks as major contributors.

Hashigo Zake, owned by Dominic Kelly, opened in the basement of the heritage-listed former police station in 2009 with the goal of sourcing beer in styles and from producers that consumers in Wellington had rarely, if ever, seen before.

“In doing so we helped energise the New Zealand craft beer scene and inspire the launch of dozens of breweries in the decade that followed,” said Kelly in a newsletter to customers.

In 2011, the bar began hosting regular musical gigs and in the years since have become established as one of Wellington’s best venues for jazz, blues and similar styles.

But, as with many hospitality businesses, Hashigo Zake was hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19.

“Then a year ago the pump that takes waste water back above ground from our basement location failed, forcing us to close for 10 days and pay a massive plumbing bill with no assistance from the insurer or landlord.

“Half a year later Wellington Water, with no warning, started digging up Taranaki St right outside our premises to build a new sewer and they’re still here.”

The announcement says the working population of the neighbourhood is also a fraction of what it was four years ago.

“Any one and maybe even two of these crises might have been survivable for us prior to 2020. But in 2024 the cumulative effects of these blows and this decade’s other challenges mean that too much damage has been done and we have to cease trading.”

The bar plans to trade as usual until March 8, but with a few differences.

“We have some rare and special bottled beer in stock that typically sells very slowly. So every day from next Monday we’ll be choosing two and offering 100ml servings from the bottle.

“News such as this is traditionally accompanied by reflections, sentimental commentary etc. We haven’t had time for that. Maybe next week or the week after.”

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