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Restaurant and bar boom levels off in Christchurch

Christchurch’s hospitality boom has levelled off.

City council figures show cafe and restaurant numbers have almost reached pre-quake levels.

As of last week there were 760 cafes and restaurants in the city, compared to 911 in June 2010.

The 2011 quake almost halved the number of eateries, with 588 operating in June 2012.

The hospitality boom was in the 2013-2014 financial year, when 106 new eateries opened.

Only 29 have opened since July 2014.

Marcia Butterfield, who runs the Neat Places online city guide, said the slowing pace was good news for existing businesses.

“A lot places are empty during the week,” she said.

New businesses took time to find the right location for their venture.

“It has become more about quality rather than quantity,” Butterfield said.

Danny Jaz opened Mama Hooch cafe and lounge bar on Colombo St in February.

When the location popped up they grabbed it as it was close to their restaurant, Venuti, he said.

The cafe and lounge bar received a positive reception from the public, Jaz said

“Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights tend to look after themselves.”

The owners of Supreme Supreme cafe in Welles St took 18 months to find their space.

“The location had character and a cool history to it,” spokesman Douglas Johns said.

C1 Espresso reopened in the city centre in 2012. Owner Sam Crofskey employs twice as many staff as he did back then.

He said the new places were very different. The earthquake allowed owners to look at different themes and concepts.

“It’s hard to find a bad coffee in Christchurch,” Crofskey said.

Sussie Morrish, associate professor of marketing at University of Canterbury, said it was great to see the high number of cafes and restaurants in the city.

Morrish said Christchurch had become trendy in terms of the dining-out choices it offered.

“The earthquake has given both old and new hospitality entrepreneurs license to experiment on new concepts and combinations,” Morrish said.

By Ryan Thomas for The Press