My happy place: Dan Norman at COMMON ROOM

Common Room (Hastings) is the coolest bar in town. Its a really neat collection of spaces, all pretty eclectic in their design with lots of little nooks and comfortable seats. It reminds me of a British pub – it’s got that feel about it – as opposed to what I would call a New Zealand bar. No TVs, nothing to distract you, just a good place to come and have a beer with a couple of friends and put the world to rest. 

My favourite thing about Common Room is the decor. Today I walked in and thought, wow that’s changed! It gives that feeling of wanting to sit down and stay here as opposed to having a beer, then another, before going somewhere else. You don’t want to go down the road to another bar.

I’m drinking the Zeelandt Vienna Lager. It was the first beer I saw when I walked in and it struck me as something I wanted to drink. I’ve had a couple of beers already today so now I’m just carrying on. There’s a good selection of drinks here, they’re big into craft beer.

We’re outside in the garden today in the sunshine but there are lots of little places to sit inside when it’s dark in the middle of winter. We came here on their one year anniversary and there was jazz on, we went out for pizza and came here afterwards, hung out for an hour and listened to some music, it was great.

It’s a convenient space – local to home – we live within walking distance and drive past it on the way from from work in Napier. It ticks all the right boxes for me.

A local is sometimes not your closest bar, it’s somewhere where you feel most welcome.

Common Room is a couple of years old now and I’ve been coming here since it opened. I’ve got a two year old and a three and a half year old so coming out for a beer is a luxury. When the boys and I go out and catch up we normally end up coming here or when the wife and I have a date night we’ll have a quick beer before going to the movies or a glass of wine afterwards. 

Gerard Barron (owner) started out just being a sole barman. You’d come in and you used to talk to him when it was quiet with no one else in the bar in his first couple of months. Now he’s got busier and has staff but he still talks to his customers and always says hello when you come in. It’s one of the nice things about the place.

As told by Dan Norman, GM for Opera Kitchen Limited / eatdrinksharehb

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