CASE STUDY
The Churchill, Wellington CBD

Our story starts 11 years ago, when Jamie Williams bought a pub by accident. “I was working in IT at the time,” he says. “The wife of a work colleague mentioned her father wanted to get rid of his pub and the next morning the deal was done. I left a very good paying job and the next week I was pouring pints.

When you look at people socialising and enjoying themselves, it makes you feel good. The more people you make feel good, the better.” Fast forward to today and Jamie is now the Managing Director/Owner of the hugely successful Wellington Hospitality Group, with 25 different venues across New Zealand.

The latest of these is The Churchill, a newly opened bar and restaurant that has all of Wellington talking.

“Hospitality is a hard industry to systemise and repeat your successes,” says Jamie. “Just because something worked in one location doesn’t mean it will work in another.” So, when he and his team undertook the massive refurbishment of The Churchill, formerly known as the Royal Alehouse & Eatery, he was, as ever, taking a calculated risk. The result, however, is a spectacular establishment that spans three whole storeys. From a whiskey den in the basement to a traditional English pub on the ground floor and, perched on the very top level, a light and airy gastro pub and gin bar.

The size of The Churchill site and the extent of the refurbishment meant controlling budget was always going to be a challenge. Combined with uncertainty around what the market would respond to, Jamie knew he needed flexibility while he and his team tested the waters.

“The biggest problem when you open a venue is you’re taking a stab in the dark that the offering in the marketplace is what they want. We’ve used Silver Chef for about three years, generally to buy kitchen equipment when we’re not sure if it’s what we need. It gives us the flexibility to exchange it for something else if we find it’s not what the market wants. It also means we can be more aggressively creative, try something different, and go out on a bit of limb. If it doesn’t work, we can fall back to a more generic position. Silver Chef’s been very good for us!”

 

Jamie Williams
The Churchill, Wellington CBD

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