The Lawrenson Group recently announced that Bar 101 Hamilton will soon close its doors for the final time. What started out as a series of rumours was confirmed after the creation of the Facebook event Bar 101 Hamilton Closing Party – the news leaving local punters in a state of distress.
On the hunt for the truth, we tracked down John Lawrenson of the Lawrenson Group for a rather emotional chat.
NEXUS: Are you able to confirm why it’s closing down?
JL : As many of your readers will know, there are plans for the building, in which Bar 101 is located, to develop a regional theatre and hotel. With Bar 101 in need of an expensive refit and a lot of uncertainty over the future of the building, we had a chat to the landlords about their plans, and decided that it would be best for all parties if we exited the lease now – rather than pump money into a building that might be completely redeveloped in the not too distant future.
NEXUS: Is this closing down similar to that of “The Hood”? Can we expect the opening of a fresh Bar 101 in a new location in the near future?
JL: The major difference is that the Hood had to close because members of the police and the District Licensing Committee were opposed to the license, whereas here, we are closing Bar 101 of our own accord. We can’t confirm or deny yet what we will be doing. There are a couple of empty sites closer to bars like the Outback and we are considering all our options.
NEXUS: Does this have anything to do with the proposed “one-way door policy”? If so, can we expect the fresh Bar 101 to link up with Outback/Backbar/Factory?
JL: We are definitely concerned about the one-way door policy and its potential for serious damage to what is left of the central city. But this closure isn’t related to that. Fortunately, the council seems to have gone quiet on lockout laws recently. Long may it stay that way! We are definitely planning another nightclub linked up to BackBar/Outback/Factory.
This combination of clubs would be able to hold around 2,600 people so if they did bring in a one- way door, a lot of people would just be able to pile into those four venues just before 2 am and party ‘til 3. Whether that nightclub will be Bar 101 or not, we can’t really say yet. There are a couple of options I am looking at.
NEXUS: Is Bar 101 closing in order to accommodate a full-sized “Wongs Late Night Diner”?
J L : I’m meeting with the owners of Wongs later in the week, and while I hadn’t thought of this myself, I will definitely be pitching the idea to them now. I think Hamilton needs a bigger Wongs Late Night. Let’s be honest, the queue for Wongs is usually longer than the queue for any of the clubs.
NEXUS: Following the closure of Bar 101, will Outback/Backbar be able to cope with the extra traffic?
JL: Yeah, I think so. Students seem to go most places, so Bank, House, and Shenanigans will probably all get a bit more attention, along with the Hood version 3.0 which is doing a pretty healthy trade in Alexandra Street at the moment.
NEXUS: We’ve heard rumours that Easy Tiger, Keystone, and Bluestone could soon follow suit – can you confirm whether or not any other iconic Lawrenson bars at risk of shutting?
JL: Bluestone is trading really well and there are still a couple of years left on the lease there, so there are no plans to close Bluestone. Even though Bluestone is in the same building as 101, that part of the building has a different landlord to Bar 101 and so does Easy Tiger, which means the opportunity to do a similar deal as we have with Bar 101 doesn’t exist. Easy Tiger’s lease is up for renewal in a few months, so we will be making a decision there soon. Keystone is in a separate building on the other side of Sapper Moore Jones Place, and is the go-to for Hamilton’s cougar community, so with that important role in the Hamilton market, we wouldn’t be looking at closing Keystone.
NEXUS: Will Bar 101 Auckland now be renamed as simply “Bar 101”?
JL: I guess we’ll have to.
NEXUS: What is expected to happen to the stellar Tui merch in the current Bar 101 Hamilton? Is it true that you’ll be running an “if you can carry it, it’s yours” policy to clear out the venue?
JL: Haha, haven’t heard that one yet, but that could be a good plan. That seemed to be the theory when we first opened Bar 101. Within weeks, anything that wasn’t glued, screwed and nailed to the walls had disappeared to Hamilton East to decorate the flats and halls of the students from 2008. We’d probably have to provide crowbars and chisels at the end of the night to dislodge most of it. Of course, if we decide that we are going to move Bar 101, then we will probably need to hang onto that stuff . It was pretty hard to come by the first time!
NEXUS: Can you confirm whether or not the replacement venue will feature soap dispensers in the bathrooms?
JL: If anyone has supplier of a student-proof soap dispenser, then we would definitely look to include these in any new venues. If you refer to my answer to the previous question, we haven’t found one yet that we can glue, screw or nail effectively to a toilet wall for longer than a weekend.
NEXUS: Do you have any other plans for your Hamilton nightlife precinct that you can share with us? Any exciting developments leading up to summer and Orientation Week for 2019?
JL: We definitely have at least one completely new bar concept coming within the next 12 months that will be a big site and we expect it to have a strong student following. It will have very affordable food, under $10 all the time, and heaps of well-priced drinks too. We’re looking forward to starting work sometime in December or January. We also have two massive acts confirmed for the end of February and the start of March for the Factory. One international and one local. We can’t say any more until they are announced by the promotion companies.
Doors have been confirmed to close for the final time at 3 am on September 16 – concluding nearly ten and half years of messy nights, questionable mistakes, and stellar memories.
~ LYAM BUCHANAN (Nexus Magazine Editor)
Bar 101 Obituary
The iconic Bar 101 has been the home of student nightlife for over ten years in Hamilton. Love it or hate it, most of us have a memory to share.
“Dear Bar 101, It has come to my attention that you will be closing down in the near future, I am deeply saddened by this. However I want to thank you for the good times I’ve had over the years coming in as a fresher and leaving now as a seasoned expert at both downing your cruisers, throwing arms to 'Party in the USA' and overcoming very dusty days at work after student nights regularly... You’ve also always been a good location to re-group and have a cheeky dart in your well set out smokers area. With all this said you will most definitely see me making the most of your cruiser deal on every night possible leading up to the day where we must part way. Mark my word if this is the end of Bar 101 Hamilton I tell you Bar 101 Auckland better watch out. When I see you again. #101tilltheend #neverforgetyou”
– Joel Hedley
“I am truly lost for words. Bar 101 Hamilton is certainly a ‘one of a kind’ place, and a location I have now for multiple years called home. R.I.P 101 we will never forget you”
– Matt Shanley
“I drunk 100 jäger bombs and got on ya wall of fame, I would love to have my plaque back to explain to my kids on where all my money went when I was 21”
– Dave Marris
“Just thought I’d throw it out there, I had to delete/untag a total of 940 photos I had been tagged here over 5 years. Fucking dedication if you ask me. See you all there.”
– Philip Hawkins