When Val Morrison’s wife saw the bar he wanted to take over, she said “You’re not going to buy that dirty, little hole, are you?” But buy it he did and, three years later, it’s a top spot in Gisborne for a night out.
Val is East Coast born and bred and came to hospitality later in life after a colourful career running a security business, working in health management, providing corporate support for iwi authorities and a rugby union boss, and labouring in a freezing works. Regular visits to a friend’s bar inspired Val to try hospitality and, when the grotty gang bar over the road came up for sale, he struck out in a new direction. He got rid of the gangs, stamped it with his own personality and Uncle Val’s was born.
“I’m glad we got into it as older people,” he says of being a publican. “As a younger person, I was less responsible and there are too many temptations, like drinking with your friends. I hold back a bit now. I’ll be in it for a good few years yet. I love the lifestyle.”