Noble choice

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New Noble 600 restaurant leasees Tony Potts and Wendy Ritchie

A fresh chapter has started at Noble 600 restaurant with new management taking over the establishment from the Ashburton Club and MSA this week.

Noble 600 opened in June this year under MSA ownership, but after trading at a loss club interim committee chairman Mike Crequer said the decision was made to lease the restaurant out.

“We negotiated with the owners of Speight’s Ashburton and they agreed to take it over as a second option for themselves,” he said.

The restaurant was losing $30,000 a month, and Mr Crequer believes part of the reason for the failure was the fine dining on offer was not a fit for Ashburton.

“Everything was too highly priced, the meals and drinks were too highly priced for a workingmen’s club.”

The MSA opened its first restaurant in 1982 and had a 70-30 per cent split with a contractor.

“That worked marvellously well. This has gone pear shaped after taking 100 percent ownership,” Mr Crequer said.

Having MSA members support the new venture is vital, he said.

“We have negotiated that MSA card holders will get a 10 percent discount off everything.”

Tony Potts and Wendy Ritchie are excited about their new venture.

Speight’s Ashburton owners Tony Potts and partner Wendy Ritchie are excited about the new challenge.

The couple will continue to run Speight’s and said the new restaurant will be different.

“And totally different from what they have had here at Noble since they have been open,” Mr Potts said.

All the existing staff have been kept on apart from the head chief who had already resigned.

Ensuring Noble 600 is a place where MSA club members will want to dine is important for new leasees Tony Potts and Wendy Ritchie, who are also MSA Club members.

‘‘It is their restaurant really, it was built for the members, so lets hope they truck on in here and use it.

‘‘We do care about the club, and that is why we entertained the idea in the first place,’’ Mr Potts said.

Ms Ritchie said ‘‘the past is the past, today is a new chapter for this restaurant and hopefully together with the staff and us it will take off and thrive, and they enjoy it and we enjoy it.’’

Starting a new restaurant next to their current business could be seen as risky but the couple consider  themselves savvy enough to mitigate that risk.

‘‘One of the reasons we took it on is we can look after ourselves, that’s why we have made quite a different menu here from Speights, it was just a good way for us to look after ourselves and protect our other business.’’

The couple believe their new menu will have a broad appeal.

‘‘We have put together something we think particularly the club members will like. We spent the weekend trying a variety of Netherby Meat sausages so they are a different flavour from Speights, it has to be different otherwise people will say they just brought  Speights next door.

‘‘It has to be quite different, but still the right sort of food at the right price,’’ Mr Potts said.

By Daniel Tobin