From left: Emma Ogilvie, Nik Moon, Nick Landsman, Henry Onesemo, Henry Temple and Soraya Lapread on the steps of East Street Hall. Photo / Tak Soropa

New Opening: Find Dancing, Dining & Community At East Street Hall

Introducing a new dynamic space from the founders of Bar Céleste and Annabel’s

The team behind new community and cultural space East Street Hall hope their soon-to-open venture will offer new experiences for a growing city.

Emma Ogilvie and Nick Landsman of Karangahape Rd’s Bar Celeste, and Henry Temple of Annabel's Wine Bar have joined forces to create a bar and events space in the community hall of what was a Samoan Church on East St off K Rd.

The friends and collaborators (they met through Emma and Nick's popular La Peche pop-up series at Annabel's in 2019) had been discussing the idea for a new venture since December, inspired by the “cultural spaces” of Paris, and the town halls of Aotearoa. “These are bigger venues that do a market day, they have a bar and good food and have heaps of different events from music to art to fashion shows, and club nights with different genres of music. That was the mutual inspiration we got from the space,” says Emma.

Henry found the location in March this year, an ex church on East St that had recently been renovated. “It was like a big shell before we fitted it out. It had concrete floors and 1950s architecture – it was postmodern in style, really clean. It still did feel like a church hall in some ways,” says Emma.

The trio set about transforming the cavernous space with the help of interior designer Katie Lockhart into a colourful dining room with melamine-covered banquettes, a chef’s table and kitchen, a bar and an outdoor courtyard that spills out onto Galatos St.

The dining aspect in the reimagined space is a “modern canteen” serving Jewish Israeli food, from pitas to whole roast cauliflower. “We wanted to go in one direction for the food and were looking at points of difference in the area. We have a mutual love of Jewish Israeli food; Nick is Jewish so he grew up with that kind of food, as well as French food.

“A canteen is a very humble place to get lunch or dinner, a place for everyone. A modern canteen is somewhere everyone can come, that’s affordable and good for sharing. There’ll be awesome pita sandwiches, but not your typical kebab shop offering.”

Head chef Henry Onesemo is leading the kitchen, with Nick Landsman acting as executive chef. Henry has fine dining experience, having worked with Michael Meredith at Merediths, as well as Apero and Lillius and a stint in Bangkok at Gaa restaurant. “It’s nice to have a Pacific Islander [Henry is Samoan] who can bring a bit of that vibe to what was once a Samoan church,” says Emma. "I’m half Tongan and we want to have some events and a representation of island culture here.”

At the bar, cocktails will be a big focus, with lots of "citrusy herbaceous concoctions" garnished with sage, rosemary, mint and fresh tonic.

“We all like to drink this style of drink and want to do cocktails really well at East Street. This style goes really well with the food too.” The wine list is all organic natural wine, something Emma, Nick and Henry champion across all of their venues and at wine shop Star Superette.

East Street Hall’s dining space has been designed in a modular, moveable format so it can work around the ever-changing events the team plans to hold. The interior can hold up to 130 people, and the outdoor deck and courtyard can fit more.

“It’ll be an evolving events programme with 3-4 events per week, whether it’s club nights, a panel mid-week, a fashion show, a presentation. We’ll really keep it alive with markets on the weekend. There’ll be a lot of work going into that side of things but that’s really the essence of the concept because it’s a venue, a bar, it needs to be alive with events.”

For the music side of things, East Street Hall has called in collaborators Soraya Lapread and Nik Moon. Soraya, a DJ, will lead the music offering, “doing her own gigs and looping in friends and other artists and developing that music side of the community. We’ve also got Nik, who’s very engaged with the LGBTQ community and has done heaps of cool events in the past like the strip pop-up Body Haus.”

“Since Covid everyone is looking for something to do and there isn’t really enough going on in Auckland, or spaces having interesting events where you can spend time with your friends.

“We’re looking to make this a very diverse space with values around openness, which is already here on K Rd as a culture. It’s about celebrating different cultures and communities. We’re really excited.”

East Street Hall is throwing an open day on October 10 and officially opens for service on October 16 from 3pm. 5 East St, central city.

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