Wānaka’s newest restaurant was given an early jab by Covid - but thanks to this week’s announcement of a return to Level 2, owners James Stapley and Sam Cooper are gearing up again.
ARC, on the Ardmore Street site on the lake side of the Urban Grind, was open for just one week before lockdown.
The two restaurateurs will offer breakfast, brunch and lunch from 9am to 3pm. “We want to offer fine dining for breakfast,” says Stapley, “so there will be a few different options, like a crayfish benedict.”
ARC will then close for two hours in the late afternoon before opening again at 5pm to offer global tapas, along with an impressive drinks list. “In the evening our food will be focussed around the bar.
Stapley and Cooper, who are the co-owners of Kika, another Wanaka restaurant, believe in procuring their food supplies, where possible from local and South Island organic producers using sustainable practices.
“Our fish is either line-caught or hand-speared,” says Stapley.
Stapley, who also co-owns Francesca’s, another well-known Wānaka restaurant, started his working life as a chef in the UK. Having worked in London for 10 years, he came to New Zealand in 2001. Here he worked first as head chef at Pegasus Bay Winery in Canterbury, before coming to work as executive chef at Whare Kea Lodge on the shores of Lake Wānaka.
While working at Whare Kea he met Francesca Voza and they teamed up to open their first Wanaka restaurant, Francesca’s Italian Kitchen.
“We both had a passion for simple Italian food and wanted to share that with Wanaka,” he says.
The latest lockdown has been “a massive thing for local hospitality businesses’” says Stapley. “Wānaka is a tourist town and summer and winter are where we make our money. With the lockdown it’s become a very short year.”
The government wage subsidy has helped and Stapley says he is “really grateful” for it, but wages account for only a small part of a restaurant’s outgoings, and he says the lockdown has meant huge financial losses.
At Level 2 both Kika and ARC can open, with restrictions.
“We want to give Wanaka something different at ARC,” says Stapley, who loves living in Wānaka, and is excited for the future here.