Mystery bar number 18
Last week's Mystery Bar provoked a bit of speculation, with bush whacker identifying the location correctly but leaving David to get the name of the bar. It's Hugo's, which opened early this year on the southwest corner of the Steamship Wharf building at Kumutoto. It has the same owners as the Loaded Hog and One Red Dog, but is a stand-alone bar rather than a part of one of those.
This week's bar should be a bit easier, since it's been around for ages rather than being brand new. Also unlike Hugo's, it couldn't exactly be described as upmarket: the jukebox, formica leaners, projection screen and old pool table would seem to be aimed at a different market entirely. It's located somewhere that could attract quite a range of punters, but it appears designed to appeal to those who find "nondescript kiwi pub circa 1981" to be a congenial style of decor.
Actually, "designed" is rather a strong word. While there are a couple of distinctive decorative items (too distinctive to show here, as they'd be a dead giveaway), everything else seems to have been ordered from a catalogue and chucked together. There's been a vague attempt to make it a café as well as a pub, but it's all pretty cheap and nasty, makes heavy use of the deep fat fryer, and much of the place feels dominated by the gaming lounge.
I'm often wary of suggesting that old pubs like this need a makeover, since there are people who feel more comfortable in a place like this and they have a right not to be forced out by gentrification. But in this case I think that the scunginess is such that it currently puts off more people than it attracts. It shouldn't be turned into a designer cocktail bar, and it shouldn't be so expensive that it prices itself out of the range of its current clientele. On the other hand, this is a special location, and I would go so far as to say that Wellington deserves better in a place like this.