Vic Brew Bar operations manager Howard Williams will soon pour his last pint after almost a decade behind the bar. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Last drinks at the Vic


Every few weeks we sit down with someone with a story to tell at Burger Culture. We call it ‘Burgers, Beers and Banter’. This week we speak to Vic Brew Bar operations manager Howard Williams who is leaving the establishment after almost ten years.

How did you come to be running your own bar?

I am the operations manager and co-owner of the Vic and Burger Culture. Our family owns both. I was 20 when I moved up from Queenstown where I worked in a couple of bars. We took over in 2010. It was a brave move from the old man, he has pitted everything on his four kids to try and make something happen here and, so far, we have been able to run it pretty successfully.

So, it’s a family business?

My sister runs Burger Culture and I look after this place. My great grandad and great, great grandad owned pubs in the Black Country, one of which is still going today. We didn’t plan it this way but we found out we were good at it and stuck to it. The main part of our success has been down to the family being so strong, we educate each other every day, stick by each other through thick and thin. The other success has been the people of Nelson.

What is your signature drink?

Whenever I go to another bar, I usually ask for an Old Fashioned, especially on holiday. I’m in love with them. Can’t get enough of them, no matter what day of the year it is. People get uncomfortable asking for a drink like that but whenever someone does, I think ‘yes, I’m sick of pouring pints, I want to make a proper drink.’

Why have you decided to sell?

We have all poured our blood, sweat and tears into this place, so it is sad, but if we want to grow the business that we feel is where our passion lies, which is Burger Culture, then we have to get rid of it. Hopefully it goes to a good operator who will do something cool with it. There will be a lot of tears shed, it’s been a lot of stress, but nothing but good memories. If anyone wants to buy a pub give us a call.

What have been some of the most memorable moments during your time behind the bar?

We were having a wrap party for the Kiwi Flyer film crew and one member of the public thought they would crash it. There were chocolates all over the table which he helped himself to, so I asked him to leave not knowing he’d stuffed these chocolates in his pockets. Before I knew it, he lobbed a handful into my face. It took me a second to figure out what had happened. I collared him and dragged him out. He then realised he’d actually thrown his room key as well. He came back knocking on the door at closing time, asking for it, but because of the way he had behaved I told him I didn’t really care about his room key. He started kicking in the door, so we called the police and it turns out there was actually a warrant out for his arrest and away he went. You have to smile and laugh about it. It’s part and parcel of working in the alcohol industry.