Wellington restaurant The Old Quarter faces criticism online after Mayor Tory Whanau saga

The restaurant says it responded to questions when asked by the media.
The restaurant says it responded to questions when asked by the media. Photo credit: Newshub & RNZ

The Old Quarter, a popular Wellington restaurant, is facing criticism on social media after staff spoke out about Mayor Tory Whanau's alleged drunken Friday night.

On Monday, Mayor Whanau told Newshub she was at the restaurant on Dixon St with a friend, when they walked out without paying.

"The Old Quarter is one of my favourite restaurants. I'm a regular patron. I am so embarrassed that we walked out without paying," she said.

"It was an honest mistake, one that we corrected the next morning."

Staff at The Old Quarter told The Post the Mayor arrived at around 7pm with a friend already "tipsy", and workers considered refusing to serve Whanau more alcohol. 

The restaurant's manager, Shay Lomas, didn't serve Whanau and her friend but said the server who did told him at one point the Mayor asked "do you know who I am?".

"The server recognised her but wasn't entirely sure so he was just kinda like, 'ah nah I'm not too sure who you are', and she was like 'I'm the Mayor of Wellington'."

Whanau told Newshub she "strenuously" denies any other accusations about her conduct and being refused service. 

"They are simply false," she said. 

Since The Old Quarter spoke to the media it's faced criticism on its Facebook page, with some sharing their displeasure with the restaurant's actions. 

"Won't be coming here after seeing your restaurant attempts to humiliate patrons even though you have been fully paid for their experience at your establishment," said one.

"Privacy of your customers, building trust with them is paramount," wrote another.

"Loose lips sink ships. Your business is looking like the Titanic."

The restaurant replied to a couple of comments. In one reply, it clarified that it didn't go to the media, but responded to questions from the press when asked. 

"We have just confirmed information when approached by the news stations."  

That's not an approach prominent hospitality operator Matt McLaughlin would take. He said incidents like Whanau's come with the job.

He said you've got to "take the good with bad" and "these things happen". 

McLaughlin believed the situation is a "mountain made out of a molehill", and told Newshub he's had "mishaps" with "plenty" of high-profile people and hasn't and won't speak out about them.

He added he's eaten at The Old Quarter many times and "it's an amazing establishment", and doesn't think some negative publicity will affect the popular restaurant's reputation all that much. 

McLaughlin told Newshub the criticism of The Old Quarter is "unfair".

Newshub approached The Old Quarter for comment. Lomas wouldn't speak further on the matter and neither would Whanau. 

Sign up to receive news updates

By entering your email address, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Newshub and its affiliates may use your email address to provide updates/news, ads, and offers. To withdraw your consent or learn more about your rights, see the Privacy Policy.