Top Wanaka restaurant Ode reopens after receiving ‘huge community support’

By Ashley Wallace

Ode Conscious Dining chef and owner Lucas Parkinson.
Ode Conscious Dining chef and owner Lucas Parkinson.
Lucas Parkinson, chef and co-owner of Ode Conscious Dining, was forced to close the doors to his award-winning Wanaka restaurant in November following a series of unfortunate events.

But after issuing a plea for help, Parkinson was delivered a lifeline to keep the restaurant running.

In December, Parkinson announced via Instagram that Ode would reopen that month thanks to “huge media and community support”.

“I sent out a cry for help and it arrived, we have some contracts to finalise but the main thing is we have a lifeline budget to open on and trial how things go,” he said.

“I know our community and guests will show up and give their full support to help us get through this rough patch and see Ode into the future.”

It’s the third time Parkinson has reopened Ode after closure caused by adversity. Fifteen months after the restaurant opened in 2017, it burnt down and had to close for a year.

Ode was again forced to close during New Zealand’s strict nationwide lockdown which began in March.

Despite a solid recovery after restrictions eased, the second lockdown in Auckland and increased restrictions across the country affected Ode to the point where Parkinson decided it was time to close the restaurant for good.

After calling for help to keep his restaurant running, Parkinson says he has gained a new perspective on business ownership.

“I’m over the moon about going into partnership and having good people to truly share this journey with and I am fortunate that my loyal kitchen team stuck by my side while I sailed us through these stormy waters,” he says.

“I’ve really changed my views on business ownership and have become more open and willing to accept help where it’s needed.

Don’t tell me it can’t be done but don’t tell me it can be done alone – I tried and it was hell, so I’m feeling really positive about our future.”


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Although it’s fair to say Parkinson has had to deal with more misfortune than most in running his restaurant, the chef still counts himself lucky for being in New Zealand during the pandemic.

“I think we are fortunate here in New Zealand; we are in a bubble of safety and our industry can recover,” he said.

“It has been reassuring with the amount of interest we received about investing in Ode and we have seen a monumental shift towards locals supporting locals who support locals.

“In our case our customers are for the most part locals; our suppliers, farmers, hunters, fishermen etc are all local; so it becomes a full support circle and one that I hope will keep growing.”


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