Occupying one of the oldest heritage wharf stores on Wellington’s waterfront, The Crab Shack combines a seaside culinary theme with an industrial look with a difference. Designers HBO+EMTB worked with their client Nourish Group, to create this coastal/Cape Cod dining experience, headed by renowned New Zealand chef Simon Gault.
Specialising in seafood with a special emphasis on New Zealand seafood, HBO+EMTB were able to create the atmosphere of a contemporary seaside shanty through their design. With the sea breeze entering through large custom timber sliding doors, the space opens up onto a terrace so patrons can enjoy the atmosphere both inside and out.
To create the mood, customised lighting with cane craypots and crab nets with loose bulbs hang by rope from the wharf’s existing timber rafters. Reused weatherboards with original paint finishes in multiple colours line the walls, while old crates act as shelves for tableware and nostalgic items from the fishermen’s past.
Custom furniture and joinery throughout add to the industrial feel and include rough-sawn timber table tops, industrial steel shelving and distressed steel stool and chair frames. To finish, nautical maps of Wellington, which were hand-stained by the designers, were fixed to the walls to help apply an aged look.
The open display bar and kitchen was a big part of the design. Complete with shellfish display, barbecue and custom wine barrel steamers, this area gives a contemporary and commercially viable take on the indigenous Maori hāngi, native to New Zealand’s original people.
The Crab Shack links visually with the adjoining Shed 5 restaurant, also designed for the Nourish Group by HBO+EMTB, by melding the vertical distressed weatherboards with the dark timber of the more sophisticated Shed 5 next door. The neutral ropes of The Crab Shack transition into the refined rope wall-covering of Shed 5 to seamlessly connect both restaurants over the entire length of the wharf.
Images © Paul McCredie