Auckland's Headquarters to close as Leo Molloy eyes mayoralty

One of Auckland's most well-known restaurants and bars will soon close as the businessman who runs it looks to campaign for the city's top job. 

Headquarters, run by controversial businessman Leo Molloy, was established in the Viaduct Harbour in 2016 as a temporary restaurant and bar on a short-term lease extended until April 2022, according to a TradeMe page advertising the relocation of the building and its assets. 

"The building was initially erected as [a] central Viaduct venue for the Lions Tour and subsequently went on to host a plethora of Viaduct events including two Americas Cup celebrations," it says.

Described as "iconic" in the TradeMe listing, Headquarters is well-known in the Auckland nightlife scene, with an assortment of high-profile Kiwis often patroning it, including former deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett and Destiny Church leaders Brian and Hannah Tamaki.

But the man behind it, Molloy, has become just as famous in recent years, known for his bold - and often controversial - takes on politics and social issues. 

He's in the past been critical of the Government's COVID-19 response, which have seen hospitality sites closed during lockdowns and gathering limits imposed at other times, including currently during the red light setting. Those restrictions, however, have also been pivotal in New Zealand's mostly successful health response to the pandemic. Molloy has also spoken strongly in support of vaccinations and against anti-vaxxers

Molloy is running for Auckland Mayor at this year's local government elections. Incumbent Phil Goff is yet to announce whether he will look for a third-term, but it's widely speculated he will not. South Auckland councillor Efeso Collins is another high-profile contender for the top job, while fellow councillor Richard Hills has had his name put out there, as well as Heart of the City head honcho Viv Beck. Neither have made any announcement.

Speaking to NZHerald, Molloy said it was a "good time" to start winding up the bar, considering his mayoral ambitions and the continued uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said it would allow him to focus on his campaign, with some of Headquarters' staff to assist with that. 

"Mayoral rules precludes you from running a business, so Headquarters isn't something I could continue doing," he said.

The Trade Me listing says the building is an "amazing opportunity to uplift this fabulous asset filled building and hospitality space and relocate to another location". 

"This building is ideal for a new pop up or permanent hospitality fixture laid out with everything you need to get started or equally it could make a fantastic commercial space for other uses such as conferences, product launches or large-scale events. 

"This sale includes furniture, huge digital display screens for parties and sports events, a high spec commercial kitchen, plants and all the funky outdoor seating that makes this venue what it is today. The Headquarters building is easily demountable and transportable for the new discerning purchaser."