Local food fest warms up Welly!


If you live in Wellington, then you’re sure to know about Visa Wellington On a Plate (VWOAP), 17 days where burgers, cocktails, festival dishes and pop ups are plentiful.

This year VWOAP celebrated its 10th birthday and was the biggest festival to date, with eateries and bars all over the city getting creative and living this year’s ‘Party’ theme.

Running during the chilly winter month of August, VWOAP has fundamentally changed the Wellington hospitality landscape from a notoriously quiet period of the year, to one that entices food lovers to come out of hibernation and enjoy something a little special!

2018 Burger finalist Pickle and Pie’s “Drip, pickle and dip” burger. We were asked to pour the gravy over the whole burger, so goodness soaks into the crevices of the pretzel bun.

This blog focuses on the very popular burger element of the Festival. Three of Retail NZ’s very own team members consumed 36 burgers during VWOAP!

VWOAP gives everyone the opportunity be a food critic – you can rate your experiences on their website and all public ratings go towards choosing the annual winner for each Burger Wellington, Cocktail Wellington and Dine Wellington! Check out this year’s winners here.

How great must it feel to create a burger that makes it through a rigorous testing and tasting process, and then ends up being Burger Wellington of the year? Shout out to the chefs all over Wellington, you’re stepping it up each year!

Wilson Barbecue’s “Brewed to the Bone”, winner of this year’s Best Burger.

It was not uncommon for restaurants to completely sell out of their burgers due to overwhelming customer demand. One small business restaurant told us “Our burgers sold out in 3 days – I ordered a quantity of produce I expected to last 17 days!” They had to go back to the suppliers to re-order! Kudos for feeding the masses, while not scrimping on quality.

During VWOAP, you’ll venture to a café and see happy people at every table tucking into their burger experience. Or restaurants having double the usual lunchtime bookings. Or you’ll be standing in a queue, and the chap in front of you has an order for 12 takeout burgers. This is unusual for a Wellington lunchtime, but completely normal during VWOAP. The numbers that were seen by eateries and bars all over Wellington were outstanding. Lines were consistently going out the door, and eateries were really cranking it out!

“240 burgers yesterday”

“1600 burgers last week”

With the delectable burger averaging $24, that’s nearly $100K to the bottom line of a small enterprise hospo business. Excellent!

Shepherd Restaurant’s “Goldburger” is worthy mention.

And what is a good burger without a great beer? Garage Project created delectable beer tasting matches: a truly delicious Red Eye Gravy coffee and maple amber ale was matched with various red meat burgers, and the Mango Milkshake IPA was well suited to seafood burgers.

A beer that usually retails for $15 could be added onto a burger or dish for about $10 during VWOAP, and customers are thinking: why not have that cheeky lunchtime beer on a Friday lunch?

Boulcott St Bistro’s “Shanks A Lot!” was enjoyed among the Retail NZ team.

On top of all of this, VWOAP also delivered a series of fabulous Festival events everyone could get involved with. For the first time this year Visa installed a Festival Hub aimed to deliver “Access to amazing” through hosting events with themes like “Future Foods: What we’ll eat in 2050”, and “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with a Twist”. There was everything from futuristic lab-grown food, to an absurdly magical high tea experience.

The Visa Festival Hub also featured the very popular giant VIV (Visa Interactive Vending machine), where the humble vending machine was taken to the next level by offering a selection of high-quality local products at very low prices.

Bebemos’s fairy bread “Fowl Play” – also available in vegetarian!

Visitors to the Visa Festival Hub could also win a trip to Melbourne simply by making a contactless Visa payment with VIV while posing for a photo! We love the playful way Visa encourages people to get on board with new technology. For Visa it’s all about customer experience and exploring news way to reduce or remove friction.

This is a true partnership between an iconic New Zealand culinary festival, local retailers and the world’s leading Payments technology company – Visa. Thanks to Visa for being the naming rights sponsor for nine years in a row!

Leroy’s “Ghost of Zorro” burger was a crowd favourite at Retail NZ.

We want to know how the Welly On a Plate season affects Wellingtonian retailers – does the hustle and bustle in town mean a busier time for you as a retailer? Or with people spending on food experiences, are you finding it to be a quieter period? Tell us about it! 😊

What could a Visa Wellington in a bag (a proverbial bag, not a single-use plastic) look like? What could retail owners do to bring in more business?

Or shall we just enjoy the burgers and treat ourselves over this magical period?

Retail NZ
0800 472 472

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