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CATERING: Overview

One of the essential facilities on any Racecourse is the supplying of food and liquor, and is an area of operations subject to more criticism than any other.

Mr Alexander Rattray, who was a Baker and Pastry cook, owned and operated a shop in Victoria Square next to the Limes Hospital, which was on the site now occupied by the Christchurch Town Hall. Mr Rattray ran a catering business in conjunction an in 1899 was the original tenderer for the catering rights at Addington Racecourse. Mr Rattray was not related to Mr Andrew Rattray the long time Secretary to the Club.

In 1900 Mr P Burke’s tender of £65 per day for both Booth and Catering rights with an extra payment of £20 for the November Meeting, was accepted. In July 1903 it was decided that Mr P Burke who became the Proprietor of the Bush Inn Hotel in 1904, be again granted the rights, this time for a tem of three years, which was extended in May 1906 for a further three years.

In January 1908 P Burke & Co. Ltd were established with Mr Burke as Chairman, and in February of that year the Company took over the lease of the Bush Inn Hotel. In July 1908 the catering and booth rights were let for three years to the new Company at £650 per annum. The rights were next referred to in April 1916 when the Company was granted them for a period of five years at £1,000 per annum.

Mr Alexander Rattray, who was a Director of P Burke & Co. Ltd became the Licensee of the Bush Inn Hotel in 1918, and retained the Licence until his death on 3rd February 1931, as a victim of the Napier Earthquake. The pattern of granting the catering rights was one of renewal every few years, with a review of the fee to be paid. In 1921 the rights were extended for a five year term, at £1200 per annum, and renewed for a further three years on the same terms in April 1926. February 1929 saw the rights again extended on this occasion for two years at £1,300 per annum, while the following July the term was increased to three years. In August 1931 when renewed a reduction of £300 in rental was agreed to as there was a drop in attendances at the Meetings. In July 1932 the Contract was renewed for one year only at £780 but towards the end of 1933 the contract was extended for two years at an increased fee of £900.

In May 1936 tenders were called for the catering rights, and Burkes’ tender was £1,000 and that of N D Watson (in association with Josephines Ltd) £1,275. The long association Burkes had had with Addington weighed in their favour and their tender was accepted. In August 1936 Burkes asked that the Stewards and Members Luncheon be increased to 4/6d as they were greatly affected by the new legislation which reduced the time between races to thirty five minutes. The Club agreed to the increase being only 4/-. Their contract was renewed for three years at £1,000 per annum.

All appeared to be quiet on the Catering front during World War II and the first reference to Catering was in October 1947, when Burkes request for a seven years extension was held over and no further information on this request can be located, nor is catering referred to again until July 1961 when it was agreed that the Booth rights payable by P Burke & Co. Ltd be fixed at £20 per one thousand attendance.

As was to be expected the Caterers asked for a lowering of their payments and an increase in the selling price of their products and September 1965 the Catering Committee met representatives of P Burke & Co. when it was agreed that the charge for spirits be increased to 1/6d for Whiskey, Brandy & Gin and 1/9d for Pimms and Bacardi but that in the Lounge Bar 1/6d be charged for all spirits.

In June 1966 Mr Hans Dieudonne was appointed by P Burke & Co. as Chef in charge of their Catering Department which resulted in a marked improvement in the quality of the Catering.

In March 1968 Burkes offered to pay $60 per one thousand attendance at Cup Days and $50 per one thousand at Night Meetings and said it would be necessary to increase the charge for the Restaurant Buffet meal to $1 per head. Their offer was accepted and the increase agreed to.

The costs of catering and liquor continued over the years to be the subject of applications from the caterers for increases. In September 1970 the joint Catering Committee of the three Clubs received a request from P Burke & Co. Ltd for an increase in the price of the Members meal to $1.20 as this meal had been priced at $1 for the last two and a half years. In view of the alarming increases in the cost of wages, and materials together with the imposition of the payroll tax it was imperative that the price increase be agreed to. The matter was held over for further investigation and Mr Collingwood of the CPTC reported to the joint Catering Committee the following week, that he had obtained a quotation from Modernage Caterers who were prepared to cater at a rate of $1 per head for 1,000 people without any reduction in standard, but that did not include any liquor rights. It was then agreed by the sub-committee that Burke & Co’s request for an increase be agreed to for the remainder of the season.

In October of the following year the caterers again requested an increase but offered to increase the privilege payments. The increases asked for, and agreed to, were minimal being up to $1 for the public luncheon, 45 cents for buffet afternoon teas, staff meals 75 cents and Members afternoon tea 45 cents. The sub-committee approved the proposed increase in privilege payments which were to be $360 for the first six thousand patrons attending, $700 for up to ten thousand patrons and $100 per thousand thereafter.

In February 1972 the Committee appointed a sub-committee to go into the question of the Club undertaking its own catering and liquor booth operations. Mr K N Curnow of Hicks & Ainger was asked to undertake a feasibility study on the Clubs running their own liquor and letting the catering as a separate item. In October 1974 Mr Curnow was authorized to visit Auckland to further his study but the outcome of the investigations was that no changes to the catering or liquor operations be undertaken.

The next negotiations were held in August 1976 when it was agreed that charges for meals be increased. The Presidents meal to be charged at $2.25 and $1 for afternoon teas, Members meals $2.75 and $1 for teas, Public $2.15 and $1 for teas with a rebate of 12½% per ticket on those issued by the Club. A change to the privilege payments was agreed to, and based at eight cents on each of the first 8,000 persons, nine cents on the next thousand and ten cents on any excess.

In July 1977 the Minister of Internal Affairs advised that an extension to booth license hours for night trotting would be reviewed and the act substantially amended. It was advised by the Committee to support the suggestion that there be a review of the Statutes Amendment Act at the end of the current parliamentary session.

In July 1978 the question of increases in charges and privilege payments was again the subject of discussion and the increases asked for catering charges were accepted and the Caterers agreed to pay 12 cents a head by way of privilege payments, with the proviso that a new deep fry facility be built.

In December 1980 following discussions between Club representatives and the Caterers a plan was considered to remove the wall between the Members restaurant and coffee bar with serving counters incorporated in the area. This will allow for a greater area to be furnished with tables and chairs, and to include the provision of a wine service and the inclusion of totalisator windows. The estimated cost was $10,000. The scheme was approved in principle by the Committee. The alterations were undertaken in December 1980 when the Club was advised that P Burke & Co. Ltd had been taken over by Lion Breweries Ltd.

In July 1981 a suggestion was put forward that the three Addington Clubs and the Canterbury Jockey Club jointly employ a Bar Manager whose responsibility would include staffing and stocking the Bars.

In September 1981 P Burke & Co. Ltd submitted a basis for new privilege payments and the President advised that these had been informally passed on to the other two Clubs. At the same time numerous complaints were received regarding the catering in the Member Restaurant and Burkes said that the present make-shift arrangements were not conducive to a smoothly run operation. It was reported the Burke & Co. Ltd could possibly assist in financing renovations to the Members Restaurant in view of the Clubs other financial commitments. It was suggested they advance money to the Company interest free.

It was reported that Burkes were very keen to become resident Caterers in conjunction with Addington Raceway and were hopeful that a catering company could be formed. It was later reported that the initial stage of the renovations to the Members Restaurant were in hand, and would include an improved ventilation system in the kitchen, the removal of the wall dividing the coffee bar and restaurant and the removal of the island servery.

In November 1981 it was reported that P Burke & Co. Ltd and Lion Breweries were interested in re-opening negotiations for but in June1982 Club representatives reported on their negotiations with the representatives of P Burke & Co. Ltd and Lion Breweries and said that the original offer had been withdrawn as Lion Breweries advised they could utilize their money to better advantage. The proposal to establish the Catering business under licence to Addington Raceway Ltd was not proceeded with as it had certain drawbacks for the Company including the valuation of the property and exemptions from Land Tax.

On the 3rd March 1983 Messrs J C Hulme, R H Rattray and W Porter retired after a long association with P Burke & Co. Ltd

The New Brighton Trotting Club called for an updated report on the feasibility of the three Clubs running their own catering and liquor operations. It was felt by the Committee that as negotiations with Lion Breweries were still pending the time was not right for a feasibility study to be carried out.

In March 1984 George Anderson Smiths City Market Ltd submitted an inventory of chattels and fittings in the Member Stand and Club Room belonging to the Raceway which could become the property of P Burke & Co. Ltd. The inventory was inspected by the Secretary and Mr Brocherie of P Burke & Co. Ltd. I was decided that when the valuation was received it be referred to Messrs Duff and Cuningham with power to act. The following month it was reported that as Lion Breweries were awaiting certain cost estimates they would not be available for a meeting with the Directors as planned.

In May George Anderson Smiths City Market and W E Simes & Co. advised that they valued the Company’s chattels at $39,259. As Lion Breweries were delaying the submission of their revised proposal it was decided that a firm undertaking must be received from them prior to the 21st June 1984 in order that negotiations would proceed, and failing that, negotiations cease but Lion Breweries request that they be granted an additional week over and above the deadline to consider the transfer was agreed to.

In July a special meeting of Addington Raceway was held to discuss a further proposal for the relocation of P Burke & Co. Ltd at Addington. As the new proposal was a complete departure from previous approaches in that the main requirement was for Addington Raceway to provide the finance for the majority of the work to be carried out to bring the kitchen area up to Health Department requirements it was decided that P Burke & Co. Ltd be notified that the suggestions submitted are approved in principle as a basis for further negotiations but before that occurs the following points should be clarified:

a. Percentage payable on liquor sales after the first year

b. The present draft lease agreement would become redundant and should be redrafted in view of the change in capital proposals.

c. The redrafted agreement should have the approval of Lion Breweries before being submitted to the Addington Raceway Directors.

Later a sub-committee comprising Messrs R H Duff, J R Hartley and H M S Dawson were empowered by the Directors of Addington Raceway to meet a deputation from Lion Breweries and P Burke & Co. Ltd and negotiate a settlement covering the transfer of Burke & Co’s operations to Addington Raceway. In August the Club Committee empowered the Directors to negotiate the Lease Agreement with Lion Breweries Ltd and P Burke & Co. Ltd. The Directors advised later that the negotiations had reached the stage where they should make a recommendation to the Clubs and submitted three proposals for the Committee to consider.

a. The purchase of P Burke & Co. Ltd by Addington Raceway Ltd.

b. The relocation of P Burke & Co. Ltd at Addington Raceway on a lease basis.

c. The liquor requirements for Race Meetings being operated by the respective Clubs and catering being let out to tender.

The Directors recommended that option “b” be adopted.

The Committee agreed to the Directors recommendation and empowered them to negotiate a Lease Agreement with Lion Breweries Ltd and P Burke & Co. Ltd for their Catering business to be conducted on the Course. This decision was made following a joint meeting of the three Addington Clubs at which it was unanimously agreed that the Lease proposition was the most favourable.

Lion Breweries submitted a redrafted Lease in the following month which did not include a number of the amendments agreed to by their representative and a representative of Addington Raceway. The Directors amended the Lease where necessary and decided to take up the matter of the alterations with Lion Breweries and Burkes.

In December 1984 the Clubs seal was affixed to the Lease and in February 1985 the Company advised that the Lease Agreement for the relocation of P Burke & Co. Ltd at Addington had been completed by all parties.

In September 1985 a plan was submitted by the Architects for alterations to the Administration Building to incorporate office to be occupied by P Burke & Co. Ltd. It was estimated the cost of paneling and screen would amount to $7,782. It was suggested that the rental payable by P Burke & Co. Ltd for the office space be $10,000 per annum.

Credit: NZMTC: Historical Notes compiled by D C Parker

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