The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, 106 Cuba St, Wellington.

The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn was established in 1963 by two Swiss brothers. It was one of the first continental coffee lounges in Wellington and quickly became a local institution. The original character included authentic Swiss maids in full outfits and a menu of strong filter coffee, club sandwiches, asparagus rolls, stroganoff, sausages and sauerkraut, mince on toast, Swiss pasteries and rolled pancakes with lashings of cream.

Matterhorn exerts a nostalgic pull on older Wellingtonians. On Saturdays it was the perfect place to stop off with the kids or grandchildren after a visit to the shops, with queues sometimes stretching down the corridor and onto Cuba Street. The business was sold in the 1970s to another Swiss, George Stuck. As an amateur cameraman, Stuck filmed every moment he could of the daily happenings and a copy of his Super-8 film ‘A day in the life at Matterhorn’ is available at Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

In the early 1980s Matterhorn was sold to a Polish family, the Lepionkas, who introduced the much-loved lamington. It was sold again in 1995 to a Greek family but unfortunately faded from the spotlight during this time. The Matterhorn was saved in 1996 by Allistar Cox, who joined with Leon Surynt and Tim Ward to transform the place into the country's first boutique cocktail bar.

Matterhorn successfully mixed good food, beverages and music to once again become a Wellington institution. It hosted the first ever outing of the band that was to become Fat Freddy's Drop. A couple of years later the famous Fat Freddy's album Live at Matterhorn was recorded here.

In April 2002 the Matterhorn underwent a major renovation. The original restaurant was considerably smaller than it is today. At the entrance the ‘Matterhorn coffees and teas’ light box is an original found about 10 years ago in a junk shop on Karangahape Road in Auckland. Within the restaurant, the only things that remain from before the renovation are the two large trees in the garden. The Matterhorn has evolved into a refined eating house with a specialist cocktail bar and a modernist style that plays homage to the institution's origins.

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