Updated cafe-bar Imperial Lane is a refreshing new hangout spot in the CBD

by Alex Blackwood / 20 August, 2018
Photography by Alex Blackwood.

Imperial Lane, off Fort Lane.

The owner of The Jefferson takes over cafe-bar Imperial Lane and gives it a refresh.

When I ask Ofir Yudilevich what’s changed in Imperial Lane since he took over two weeks ago, his answer is simple – “heaps.” He isn’t kidding. The Melbourne-esque laneway coffee shop has become more of a cafe with an edge. Neon signs above the buffet, coffee bar and actual bar label the distinct new “bite”, “brew” and “bar” areas respectively.

Yudilevich, with help from Paul Izzard Design, has accentuated the grand, retro bones of the original heritage building – restored by Fearon Hay in 2011 – by updating only the bar and decor to retain the industrial warehouse vibe. Hints of the building’s previous life as a theatre house, the sloping floor and cavernously high ceilings in what used to be the foyer, remain.

Read more: Auckland's best bars 2018The best cafes in Auckland | Eight Auckland bars that are especially good for dates

Yudilevich also owns neighbouring bar, The Jefferson. He says taking over the Imperial Lane space, just upstairs (or up-ramp), was a natural extension. But unlike The Jefferson’s cave-like underground secrecy, Imperial Lane is set street-side, acting as a thoroughfare between bustling Queen Street and shared-space Fort Lane.

The space has always been informal, lending itself to beer drinking and platter eating in the sun which streams in from the garage-style door on the Fort Lane side. There are a range of platters sized for groups from 2 to 4 people. Ofir recommends the potted shrimps that are part of the seafood version – small shrimp cooked in butter.

Some of the food on offer at Imperial Lane.

I say beer in the sun, but that beer could just as easily be champagne with brunch from the Lane’s ever-changing breakfast and lunch buffet while you people-watch. The buffet is well stocked and continually changing, complete with a selection of salads, breads, meats and pastries. The bar is also just as well stocked – with a dedicated staff to serve you up whatever concoction you need – or just a really decent wine.

And the coffee? It’s supplied by Red Rabbit, a boutique Parnell-based roastery that takes coffee seriously. Yudilevich is serving their futuristically brewed coffee – ground for exactly 26 seconds for optimum texture.

Open Monday to Saturday, 8 am till late.

Imperial Lane
7 Fort Lane
Central city


How NZ women won the right to vote first: The original disruptors & spiteful MPs
96463 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z History

How NZ women won the right to vote first: The orig…

by Vomle Springford

Is it right that while the loafer, the gambler, the drunkard, and even the wife-beater has a vote, earnest, educated and refined women are denied it?

Read more
Fémmina: The story of NZ's unsung suffrage provocateur Mary Ann Müller
96479 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z History

Fémmina: The story of NZ's unsung suffrage provoca…

by Cathie Bell

Mary Ann Müller was fighting for women’s rights before Kate Sheppard even arrived here, but her pioneering contribution to the cause is little known.

Read more
Ian McKellen charms his way through a documentary about his life
96472 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Movies

Ian McKellen charms his way through a documentary …

by James Robins

Joe Stephenson’s tender documentary Playing the Part looks at McKellen's life as an actor, activist and perpetual wizard.

Read more
The Chosen Bun: A smart new burger joint opens in Stonefields
96507 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Auckland Eats

The Chosen Bun: A smart new burger joint opens in …

by Alex Blackwood

Burgers, milkshakes and fries are not rare things to find in Auckland, so The Chosen Bun's owners were smart to be very picky about their ingredients.

Read more
The brutality experienced by the suffragettes
11636 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Listener NZ 2015

The brutality experienced by the suffragettes

by Sally Blundell

As we mark 125 years since NZ women got the right to vote, we must remember it didn't come easily.

Read more
The case for closing prisons
96403 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Social issues

The case for closing prisons

by Paul Little

If we want a prison system that does a better job than the current one, alternatives aren’t hard to find.

Read more
Jennifer Curtin: The feminist political scientist mixing rugby with politics
96422 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Profiles

Jennifer Curtin: The feminist political scientist …

by Clare de Lore

Australian-New Zealander Jennifer Curtin says the lopsided nature of the Bledisloe Cup pales in comparison to the slump in transtasman relations.

Read more
Don McGlashan is out of the attic and taking flight
96439 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Music

Don McGlashan is out of the attic and taking fligh…

by James Belfield

Don McGlashan is taking some old unloved songs on his New Zealand tour.

Read more