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An ICONIC Ashhurst pub is fostering community spirit in the Manawatu township, and at the same time putting it on the map. The Ashhurst Inn, owned by Norbert and Ursula Drzymala, was formerly the Masonic Hotel, but bears little to resemblance to the old pub.

It opened two weeks before the Christmas of 2009, and has already received impressive support from people in the local community. "We wouldn't be where we are without them," says owner Norbert. The support is a tribute to the efforts of the staff at the Ashhurst Inn, who are doing all they can to meet the needs of the community.

Norbert and Ursula wanted to create a family-friendly restaurant and bar that offered meals and drinks at reasonable prices. "The Inn offers great value for money, with all mains around $20-30 and an extensive range of wine and beer all priced to impress. It's a relaxed, friendly atmosphere that caters for everyone. "We wanted to bring the community back into The Inn, as well as attract through traffic. "We are having people coming in for a drink and a meal who haven't dined out in Ashhurst for 30 years." Although catering for the local community is The Inn's main role, it is also ideally located to attract the travelling public and naturally The Inn is biker friendly. "Ashhurst is a hub. If you are coming over Vinegar Hill, you come past The Inn. If you are travelling to Hawke's Bay or Wairarapa, it is on the way."

Norbert sees the Ashhurst Inn as a destination dining place, and says it is attracting diners from Palmerston North and the surrounding area as far as Pahiatua and Fielding. The dining area is the domain of the kitchen manager, chef Janine Drzymala, who has created a menu she describes as classic Kiwi. But alongside this, she has introduced a specials board that has a German influence. She uses fresh New Zealand produce, and makes a lot of what is on the menu instead of buying it in.

The Ashhurst Inn is proud to offer local wine from the Wairarapa and Marlborough regions. "We have a great selection of wines, especially by the glass," Csaba says. "The Inn is independently owned, and is not restricted [to certain] beers and wines. We have a large selection of beers, including Guinness on tap, and a selection of 'boutique' beers such as Krombacher and Erdinger. "But if beer and wine is not your thing, we have professional bar staff who offer a beautiful selection of cocktails, which are extremely popular." Norbert says the revamp of the hotel was extensive. "When we bought the hotel, we couldn't do anything with it, so we had to gut it and start again." There is now a new foyer, which leads directly into the L-shaped bar and dining area.

The atmosphere is clean, light, bright and welcoming. The dining room seats around 40 people. But there is additional, adjoining space on a deck at the front of The Inn, aptly named "Nobbie's Patio", that can be fully enclosed if the weather is bad and can seat another 30 people. Off the bar, there is also a courtyard with several sheltered tables. We have also added a "Saloon Wing", with a couple of dart boards and are planning to start a darts league in the near future. There are plans to extend this area, which will be "something special" when completed, Norbert promises. As well as being a top spot to enjoy a meal and a drink, the Garden Bar area is a perfect place to just hang out on the warm late summer nights.

Ashhurst Inn is a place where you can enjoy theme evenings every week. Tuesday night is Schnitzel Night, which is a big hit, while every second Wednesday night is Open Mic night. Thursday night is ladies' night, when there are cheap cocktails, spirits and RTDs. Norbert says Thursday nights aren't just for the ladies, however. Men can also enjoy cheaper drinks as well as a steak for a very generous price, as every Thursday is also Steak Night. We also offer Mates Rates 5-7pm on Fridays, for the end of the long working week, and 6-8pm Saturdays, with beer specials for all.A live band is featured once a month, and special occasions, such as St Patrick's Day, are also celebrated. A recent spit-roast Sunday received a good response from families keen to take advantage of the delicious $16 meals. "We just like to offer something different," Norbert says.

The Ashhurst Inn is already proving to be a popular stopping-off place for groups of motorcyclists. Norbert, a keen motorcyclist himself, hopes to develop this trade by encouraging the formation of an Ashhurst motorcycle club. He also wants The Inn to have its own golf team. The Ashhurst Inn is available for private functions, and has a courtesy van that can be used to take larger groups back into town. "So if you are planning to have a few drinks, get a ride out and we will take you home," Fiona says.

Original Article

Manawatu Standard, Copyright of Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2009, All rights reserved. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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