Andrea Loggia is thrilled he can finally offer true “Italian hospitality” at Sovrano Estate and Restaurant after getting his liquor licence. Photo / Jenny Ling
It’s taken just over five months, but Andrea Loggia is thrilled he can finally offer authentic “Italian hospitality” at his Far North restaurant after being granted a “life-saving” liquor licence.
After lodging an application for a liquor licence with Far North District Council last September, Sovrano Estate and Restaurant has at last been granted a liquor licence following a District Licensing Committee hearing on February 23.
“It means we can serve a glass of wine with food, and run the business as normal,” Loggia said.
“We are pretty happy, because we were losing so many customers. People didn’t understand what was going on. Now we can tell people we are fully licenced and back on track.
“We can offer Italian hospitality.”
Loggia, who founded the award-winning Sovrano Limoncello range with his wife Marzia, bought Ake Ake Vineyard and Restaurant in Waimate North near Kerikeri last year and converted the restaurant into an Italian eatery.
But due to a delay in the on-licence application, which the council has since admitted was “unacceptable”, Loggia was unable to sell wine at his restaurant – despite it being attached to a winery.
In January, Loggia told the Northern Advocate he estimated they were losing around $4000 a day during the hospitality and tourism industry’s peak season.
At the time, the council admitted an “unacceptable vetting delay” and said it has “reviewed our processes as a result”.
However, Far North Deputy Mayor Kelly Stratford defended the council’s liquor licence procedures, saying the timeframe was “not an unusual amount of time” for a new on-licence application to be processed.
Councils usually take 20 to 25 working days to process liquor licences if all the required documents are provided and there are no objections from the public.
Worried about the future of the business, Loggia put the restaurant, vineyard and cellar door on the market.
Now, he said unless there’s “some crazy offer”, the listing will be taken off the market.
“Running the business with no legs was very frustrating and hard for us,” Loggia said.
“We decided after this [getting the licence], we can still trust the system in New Zealand.
“And New Zealand is the right place to be.”
Council environmental services manager Rochelle Deane said delays to the application were due to “a combination of factors many of which were outside of council’s control”.
”It is up to the applicant to ensure that they are aware of requirements. We know this process can be complicated and we regularly remind all alcohol licensees of their responsibilities under the law. Newsletters outlining their obligations are sent out four times a year.