Last call: Hamilton's Bar 101 is closing its doors

Owner John Lawrenson told Newshub it is simply time to move on.
Owner John Lawrenson told Newshub it is simply time to move on. Photo credit: Google

Hamilton's Bar 101 has been a favourite of students looking for a good time on a night out for more than 10 years.

But in the early hours of September 16th, the venue will flick on its bright interior lights, bid adios to revellers and shut the doors behind them one final time.

Owner John Lawrenson told Newshub it is simply time to move on from the spot, after developers working with the Hamilton City Council bought the building to build a theatre and a hotel.

"It's been there for 10 years, it's pretty run down, it's definitely in need of a birthday and we said there's no point renovating it in its existing site if they're going to come and put a bulldozer through the building in 18 months' time," he said.

"It's a lot of capital to invest as a tenant when there's not a lot of future for the building."

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King told Newshub a trust was set up to raise $75 million for the new project, which is all about bringing people into the CBD.

"Hamilton City Council has put in $25 million and the other local councils around the outside of Hamilton have put in $5 million. I understand that most of the funding has been raised.

"It's a beautiful old site and they're going to protect the heritage facade around the outside and put the theatre in the middle. It's going to seat about 1300 people and it's right in the middle of town where all the action is, so it's really super impressive," he said.

An event page made for the final bash states homage will to be paid to the early days, with cheap drinks every night of the week.

"In memory of some of those great times we are taking things back to how it all started with $3 vodka cruisers and $3 export beers available every night of the week from now until the day we close," a message on the event page stated.

"Don't miss your last chance to party at Bar 101, 188 Victoria Street with drink prices from back in the day!"

Lawrenson said his company, The Lawrenson Group, have two other empty sites that they "may or may not" bring the bar back to, but hopes it will be remembered as a fun and safe environment.

"It will just really depend whether or not there's a lot of nostalgia in the next four weeks," he said.

"It really was that place that played all the really cheesy music and it was designed to be that.

"We've got other clubs that play a lot cooler music than 101, but it was the place that played all of those songs that you don't admit that you like, but once you're drinking you secretly love.

"It doesn't matter how many people think 'that song is lame' because at 2 in the morning, they're all in the bar singing and know every word.

"It was a very fun bar, it was very safe, we really tried to make sure that it was just a bar for students."

In a number of posts on the closing party's event page, Bar 101 regulars expressed their dismay at the venue's last days.

With a capacity for strictly 400 people, one update on social media saw more than 1600 people tagging their friends or sharing their disappointment that the bar will be no more.

Some socalisers imagined big things for the last hurrah.

"I have a feeling this party is going to hit capacity," said one person.

"Bar 101 is closing this is just absolutely atrocious and we need to start a petition," wrote one young woman.

Others were just looking for answers.

"So why are they closing down? Bar 101 has always been popular."