Interview and photograph by Florence Noble.
As venue manager as Seven and Tommy's Champagne Parlour, Jonny seems to have an affinity for spirits – high spirits, distilled spirits, and even disembodied spirits.
Are you from Auckland?
No, Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. Been over here just shy of 5 years. Originally, I came for one year and just kind of got stuck.
Yes. It’s such a dynamic place. You’ve got the city, but as soon as you drive north, south east or west you can be out in the middle of nowhere. It’s fantastic. The beaches are amazing.
Do you have any hobbies?
Yes. I quite like climbing. Try to be as active as possible around the hospitality lifestyle. There’s always work with the late nights and the early mornings, but as much as possible.
How do you get to Britomart?
When I’m doing well and on time, the bus or the train. Otherwise Uber.
What do you do here?
I’m the venue manager of Seven and Tommy’s Champagne Parlour. Bit of everything, bit of floor, bar, working on new ideas and concepts. And a lot of training as well – building the guys up, keeping them interested, pushing them forward.
What cocktail should people definitely try?
Our Dawn Cocktail is beautiful. It’s very nice and refreshing. Gin, lemon and plum puree. Or we’ve got a cocktail called The Chun Lee up at Seven which is gin, umeshu (plum wine) and cucumber. Especially good in spring.
How did you get into this?
I’ve always done hospo. Always gone between hotels, bars, managing nightclubs in the UK. Came over here and was going to do something new and then was drawn back into hospitality. I was working in Fukuko for a while and then offered the position upstairs. And it’s been fantastic. I really enjoy hospitality. I like working with the people and I like the team spirit behind it. The camaraderie.
What’s your idea of fun?
I think sometimes it’s fun taking people out of their comfort zones. You see some great concepts around Auckland. Like some of the art installations. There was one in Aotea Square recently where it was a series of corridors and doors. Something that’s different to what people are used to.
If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?
I would love to be a paramedic. And that’s where I want to get to. Or a disaster response specialist. I’ve already done one course, I’ve just got to do another one, when I get around to it.
Is a paramedic a doctor?
Not quite. They can provide some medications and injections, they’re almost the same level as a nurse. Somewhere between, maybe.
Whats your favourite thing to spend money on?
Food, I reckon.
Where’s your favourite place to eat around here?
I’m a bit biased, but the tacos at Fukuko. And Xuxu with the dumplings.
Have you got your eye on anything to buy at the moment?
I’d like to get a still. A copper still so you can make gin or whiskey. I’d like to try and play around and make up different spirits and whatnot. There’s a couple of places around that do courses on it. I’ve worked with spirits for a number of years, and it would be good fun to see if I can do something. Not, like, a serious project, but serious enough not to kill anybody!
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Probably. Yeah, there’s a few around. But they’re fine, they’re friendly. We’ve got another site, Las Vegas and that’s definitely got a couple of ghosts in it. You hear them banging around. They’re there.
It’s definitely not a person?
I hope not. Cause at that point, you’re either being burgled or there’s a ghost. Hopefully it’s a ghost!