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Cheers . . . Oamaru Licensing Trust chairman Ali Brosnan and Cathy Maaka raise a glass to to opening of the refurbished Totara Bar at the Brydone Hotel last Friday. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

The Oamaru Licensing Trust celebrated the official opening of the Brydone Hotel’s new-look Totara Bar last week.

The refurbished bar area was opened to the public at an official ribbon-cutting ceremony overseen by Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher on Friday.

Oamaru Licensing Trust general manager Cathy Maaka said, as far as she was aware, it was the first time the bar had been given a full makeover since 1986 and, coupled with a changing market, that meant the time was right for change.

“We realised we had to change to meet the market and wanted to do more cabinet food. We purchased a new chiller and decided we needed to renovate to fit it all together … it’s about time the old lady had a refurbishment.”

The bar’s new carpeting, paintwork, furnishings and tables made for a more “warm, inviting and modern” atmosphere, she said.

However, a touch of history still remained – a stained glass panel mounted on the bar’s ceiling that Mrs Maaka believed was installed more than 30 years ago.

“We didn’t want it to lose its character.”

Work on the roughly $20,000 project was delayed as a result of the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown and was able to start only once that was downgraded to Level 3.

Trust chairman Ali Brosnan, who welcomed invited guests to the opening, said it was a positive for the industry in uncertain times.

“This is a wee bit of a positive today, in this terrible Covid situation, for the hospitality industry. We are pretty proud of what we have achieved. It’s good to be able to do a positive thing in tough times.”

The Brydone Hotel was built in 1881.