Change is the only constant at times and Cuba St has seen an awful lot in its time.
Ernesto café has closed, so has Muchener Burger another long standing Cuba St institution. I hear that Ernesto will be reopening in the vacated burger joints building after some renovations are completed. At least one of the locals is only moving not leaving.
Ernesto was located in the HB clothing factory building on the corner of Cuba and Guzznee Street. The building was orange stickered by council in October 2011 and will be re-strengthened in the next few months. The HB clothing factory was established in the late 1880,s the HB stands for Hallenstiens Brothers they had store’s throughout the country. I think it is a shame that the building has had its leadlight windows removed, as these where a visual references to its past and a reminder of our cities commercial beginnings.
In the 60’s and 70’s a shop located in this same building was Crazy Ricks. I knew the shop well in my youth as my theatrical buddy Phil Gordon’s dad Rick owned the store. We frequented the shop often after school before heading up the road to where they lived, a flat above another shop at the top of the street. My school bag was a canvas army surplus one, just a small example of NZ military remnants available to buy at Crazy Ricks. The store was full of all sorts of products, sunglasses, key rings, tin canteens, torches, camping gear etc. The store was also full of things made in Japan and Korea and cheaper than those available in the department stores of the day. Rick was before his time when it came to Asian imports and another of the memorable characters now gone from the street forever.
Mucheners which also closed before Christmas was an institution for those in need of a burger having been in the street for 30 years. The burgers where created with good meat, spices and dedication and care for their customers. Even though I wasn’t familiar with the delights of this establishment, I know many people who talk of it fondly. The place will be missed by many particularly after a drinking session in the Street.
Change is inevitable, but I hope that some of our built heritage is left, as it is an important part of the character of our city.
Articles about this recent change can be found at