Doggone It! Wellington landmark the Loaded Hog has closed its doors.
Monday 26th April 2010
The Loaded Hog has been a feature of Wellington’s cafe and restaurant scene for many years. Originally located upstairs in Bond Street, the Loaded Hog was a popular city lunch venue in the early 1990s and was open late. The first floor bar, cafe and brewery was spacious and featured an outside dining area popular in summer and a crackling fire attractive to inveterate seat-warmers in winter.
The steep, straight staircase from Bond Street delivered guests to a glassed-in area where brass and copper pipery was busy making the in-house brewery’s wares.
In recent years the Hog has been located on Wellington’s waterfront, blending-in the remnants of another popular Wellington watering-hole, the Greta Point Tavern. The Greta opened in Evans Bay in the early 1980s and was memorable for its glassed-in verandah dining area that allowed diners to watch the tide flow in and under the pier as the boaties played about in the waves.
The Greta Point was popular for its lip-smacking hot leg of ham and enticing seagulls. On opening night a certain complement of Hataitai flatmates speculated on how long the seagull perched on the suspended lifeboat would last. From the upstairs balcony the gull was enticingly close for a souvenir collector. I wonder whether it survived the Greta’s tenure.
When the area was redeveloped the Greta Point Tavern building was relocated to Wellington’s waterfront where the building lay neglected for a couple of years. In one memorable storm, it tried to remind city workers of its presence by flapping loose roofing iron at them as they plodded toward the railway station through the horizontal rain. City firemen had a precarious time trying to stop the whole roof lifting and disintegrating to create havoc amongst the traffic on the quays.
Eventually the building was buffed-up and the Loaded Hog moved in to a bright ground floor cafe and bar with extensive verandah that was popular on a bright sunny day.
Business is a fickle thing and the extension of the New Zealand-themed Loaded Hog franchise to other parts of New Zealand is a subject best dealt with elsewhere. However, the empire has shrunk, and now the original Hog, which opened in Wellington in 1991, has gone.
We stumbled upon this sad story last Saturday having been playing tourist-at-home by fossicking about the wonderfully restored wooden government buildings in Lambton Quay. DoC had held an open day allowing the public to stroll about part of the building to view a vault, the grand staircase, the old cabinet meeting room and a simulation of clerical life around the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
We took our time looking about the lovely old pile and decided to retire to the Loaded Hog for some much-needed refreshment, not knowing that its days were numbered. Alas, we were too late. Luncheon service had finished at 2 p.m., twenty minutes before we arrived. The closing-night special of spit-roasted porker was still two hours away.
Initially we were offered the bar snack menu but the chef took pity on us and decided to re-open the kitchen and offer us the full menu. We weren’t quite the last lunch diners at the Hog, however, as this courtesy was extended to another party that arrived just before our tasty meals were whisked out of the kitchen.
The service was professional and friendly, and the food filling and tasty. A nice last memory of the Loaded Hog to take away with us.
As we tootled off, the late afternoon crowd was arriving to partake of a cleansing ale and that spit-roasted porker.
An upmarket restaurant will open on the site sometime around the end of May.