Character Northcote Point building with outstanding tenant covenant

Acclaimed bistro The Engine Room’s character property for sale

The founders of acclaimed neighbourhood bistro The Engine Room are selling their historic North Shore property, but are staying on as tenants to continue the legacy of their award-winning eatery.

Built in 1929, the former post office building at 115 Queen Street, Northcote Point, occupies a high-profile corner site within the local shops, only minutes from the motorway and Auckland’s CBD.

Despite spending more than a year searching for the ideal location, restaurateurs Natalia Schamroth and Carl Koppenhagen were initially hesitant about the landmark character building.

“Natalia and I had worked for more than a decade in top kitchens in Europe and Australia, so we had high expectations of what we wanted to achieve with The Engine Room,” Koppenhagen says.

“We were initially reluctant to return to the area where we’d grown up as children. It seemed like a backward step. But the building’s charm and location so close to the city won us over.

“We fell in love with the steel-framed windows, the high stud ceilings and the open-plan kitchen. It felt right, and that was most important to us.”

The couple leased the property with a commercial kitchen and liquor licence already in place. They then set about transforming it into The Engine Room, which opened its doors in 2006.

The casual eatery has since won numerous awards, and consistently features in Metro magazine’s annual list of top Auckland restaurants.

The restaurateurs purchased the building in 2013, enabling them to expand and refurbish the premises.

They have now decided to sell the property but will continue to own and operate the bistro business as long-term tenants.

Colliers International brokers Simon Child and Matt Prentice are marketing the freehold land and buildings for sale by deadline private treaty closing at 4pm on Tuesday 27 November, unless it is sold earlier.

Child says it is a superb chance to invest in a highly recognisable property with outstanding tenant covenant.

“It is very rare that we see an investment of this quality come to market. It offers investors the opportunity to acquire a superb property with award-winning tenants.

“The Engine Room has a long-held reputation for being one of Auckland’s best restaurants. This is a chance to leverage off that success with a one-of-a-kind property investment.”

The Engine Room is signed to a new six-year lease with a 12-month personal guarantee.

The lease returns $130,000 plus GST in net annual rent, with market rental reviews every two years. Two rights of renewal of three years each extend the final expiry date to October 2030.

The property has a net lettable area of 290sq m on a 503sq m site with six car parks. Business Neighbourhood Centre zoning allows for future redevelopment of up to 13m in height.

The location is only 4km from Auckland’s CBD via the Auckland Harbour Bridge or by ferry from Northcote Point Wharf. It is strategically close to State Highway 1, main arterials and an abundance of local amenities.

Child says the vendors have invested significantly in the building over the last six years.

“Natalia and Carl engaged award-winning architects Fearon Hay to refurbish and sensitively extend the building with an addition to the back, which flows seamlessly into the existing character building.

“Fearon Hay is renowned for sympathetic work on historic Auckland buildings, and The Engine Room refurbishment is testament to that expertise.”

Schamroth says they are very proud of having restored the building to the glory it deserves.

“We had a very close working relationship with Fearon Hay to ensure we kept the character of our restaurant and of the building.

“We were super impressed with their mindfulness of our interior vision as well as the heritage of the property.”

Schamroth says they always wanted the bistro to be able to seat 60 customers, but the original post office space was too small. It now seats 90.

“We’re thrilled with how the refurbishment turned out. It has created a light, characterful space that encourages customers and staff to interact. It’s the neighbourhood bistro we always wanted.

“We’re looking forward to staying on as tenants in this vibrant space, with all of its memories.”

The couple launched The Engine Room to fill a gap in the Auckland market for a neighbourhood bistro serving honest, good-quality, seasonal food in a casual, fun and busy environment.

Drawing on their lifelong love of food, the bistro’s offerings are shaped by the couple’s European heritage and culinary traditions.

Schamroth spent many school holidays in Melbourne with her Polish maternal grandparents. It was there she was introduced to exotic ingredients, great restaurants and homely cooking.

Schamroth studied cooking at AUT and later worked at Ponsonby’s Metropole under chef Ray McVinnie. She spent 10 years abroad, including a stint cooking for supermodel Kate Moss, before returning to New Zealand.

Koppenhagen is the son of a New Zealand-born mother and a Dutch father, who ran a Four Square in Northland and later a delicatessen in Auckland. His parent’s delis gave him a taste of European specialties including cheeses, cured meats, olives, terrines and pates.

Koppenhagen studied cooking at AUT and later met Schamroth while working at Metropole. After a stint in London – where he worked alongside Kiwi chef Peter Gordon and cooked for celebrities including Annie Lennox and Mick Jagger – he spent some time in South East Asia before returning home.

Back in New Zealand, after their separate stints overseas, the former colleagues became a couple and started planning their new eatery together. Now well established, the award-wining bistro has its own cookbook and a dedicated customer base.

Child says the sale of the Queen Street property is a chance for investors to become part of The Engine Room story.

“With Natalia and Carl as award-winning tenants, this is a truly mouth-watering investment opportunity like no other.”

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