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Harlequin Public House Brings History Full Circle

9 August 2013

Harlequin Public House Brings History Full Circle

On the 1890s site of the Junction Hotel in central Christchurch, a new public house has made its home.

On Wednesday 14 August, Harlequin Public House on the corner of Salisbury and Montreal Streets, will open its doors to the public, and a special opening event will celebrate the end of one journey and the beginning of another.

After losing their restaurant and livelihood in the February 2011 earthquake, Chef Jonny Schwass and his team have worked hard to get back up running again as soon as possible.

The majority of the original team has remained in the city, a testament Schwass says, to how important the Christchurch is to them.

“We love this city. It’s been broken and we need to help fix it and get on with things. We all love good food and making sure people have a great experience, and Christchurch is a great place to do that,” he says.

Harlequin Public House will offer “a full sensory experience” says Schwass.

“Think the 1920s in Europe, the speakeasy and all that went with that time. The food, the ambience, the cocktails, the staff; Harlequin will be eclectic, fresh and exciting,” he says.

Restaurant Schwass, which was lost in the February quake, was all about promoting high quality local organic produce and whereas Harlequin will continue to do this, introducing people to what’s outside Canterbury is more of a focus this time.

Original maître d’hôtel (maître d’), Frederic Fleury is back on deck, with beverage director (Toby Eaton) who is a drinks expert with a practiced knowledge in the art of cocktails.

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It’s been an interesting journey for Schwass and his team over the last two and a half years since they lost the Ferry Road “Restaurant Schwass”. There was “Schwass in a Box” (private dinners catered in a local warehouse), the Charcoal Relief Unit (a huge BBQ which still operates around Christchurch), private catering, and trips around the country doing food demonstrations.

Now the Schwass family has a home and are looking Inside Harlequin Public House there is an Oyster and Champagne Bar, a 50-seat bistro for dining, a 1920s style cocktail lounge and a private dining area for smaller occasions such as tastings and special degustation events.

Harlequin Public House will be open 7 days a week, the restaurant from 11am-3pm & 5pm-11pm, and the bar until 1am. No booking required. Open for dinner from Thursday 15 August.

Potted history of the building:
In the late 1800s, the Junction Hotel stood corner of Montreal and Salisbury Streets.

It was closed after the number of public houses in the city was reduced, and a house was built on the site in 1899 for Archibald Scott, an Insurance Manager.

During the early years of the first decade surgeon Walter Fox is listed in Wises Directory as occupant of the building.

In 1907 Sir Hugh Thomas Dyke Acland of the Acland family of Peel Forest purchased the building as a townhouse. Sir Hugh was a distinguished surgeon and ran a surgery from the property for many years.

From the mid-1920s Dr Arthur Charles Thomson operated a surgery from the house although he did not purchase the building from Acland until 1944. Thomson who had a large private practice sold the house in 1966 to the Christchurch City Council who leased it to the Christchurch Teachers' College.

The house was named Ironside House by the college after Miss A F Ironside, who was a lecturer in science and a women's warden of the college from 1927 until 1941.

In 1982 Jan and Peter Clifford purchased the property and restored the house, opening a cookery school on the ground floor.

The property has been owned since 1999 by H & H Developments Ltd and before the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes operated as a successful Thai restaurant called ‘Ironside Thai’.

Now it has come full circle and once again is a public house…Harlequin Public House

Some of the team behind Harlequin Public House:

Jonny Schwass - Head Chef, co-owner
“It’s about being a public house, being a ‘hub’ in the community, and returning the house to where it all began.”

George Binnersley Business Partner
Frederic Fleury Restaurant Manager / Maître d’hôtel
Toby Eaton Beverage Director


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