Buying Warkworth’s Tahi Bar seemed like the natural next step for new owners Rachel Cooney and Gareth Hedges. After all, this was the place where they met, where Rachel worked behind the bar and Gareth played as a musician.
So, when founder Ian Marriott wanted to sell and the couple were looking for a new venture together, the pieces fell into place.
It’s quite a career change for both of them. While Rachel has worked as a bartender before, she is a portrait artist by profession and was managing an art gallery in New York before returning to New Zealand five years ago. Gareth has been a mechanic since he was 15 and was managing Cameron Autos until they took the plunge and bought The Tahi.
Since they took over in April, they have maintained the bar’s craft beer range and distinctive vibe, while improving the range of wines available and reopening the kitchen to serve a wide selection of food, including tacos, nachos, paté and burgers.
“We’re still a craft beer specialist, but we’ve broadened into wine and food as well,” Rachel says.
“I can say with absolute confidence that there isn’t a single wine here that isn’t excellent. And good wine makes the place a lot more female-friendly.”
They have worked hard on refurbishing the bar, and it is now brighter, more open and attractive. Inside, the walls are hung with guitars and musical instruments, and artworks by local artists.
Live music is also a priority for Rachel and Gareth, and they are always on the lookout for talented local bands and performers.