Opening a new hospitality venue during these Covid-19 times is bloody courageous but that’s exactly what James and Elissa Cooper of Lakeman Brewing have achieved.

Keen to push their ever-growing range of world-class beers, they’ve joined forces with Taupō hospitality duo Vaughan and Leanne Nairn opening Jimmy Coops Lakehouse.  Vaughan and Leanne have been a part of the local hospitality scene for a number of years successfully operating venues Vine Eatery & Bar, Café Baku and Finns Gastro Pub & Garden Bar.  The new partnership has provided a platform for great collaboration and strong synergies which bode well for the future success of their new venue.

Securing a sought-after lakefront location was a master stroke as the Taupō District Council are embarking on a major redevelopment of the area.  Traffic is to be diverted away from the lakefront and will see a new grassed family area created.  The benefit for Jimmy Coops will be the opportunity to construct an all-weather dining area providing shade during the hot summer months and a warm, welcoming space throughout the colder Taupō winters.  The October opening date has provided the opportunity to bed in systems, train the team and prepare for the busy summer ahead.

Strong branding has been key to making an instant impact on the lakefront location.  Local creative genius Marty Day worked alongside James and Elissa in building the Lakeman brand so he was a natural choice to bring the Jimmy Coops concept to life.  Yellow and aqua are the two key colours in the brand and they do really well to bring the location to life on the busy Taupo lakefront.

The name “Jimmy Coops” was Vaughan’s idea and something James wasn’t initially very keen on however he warmed to it over time — or as Elissa says: “he was eventually outvoted”.

James Cooper behind the bar at Jimmy Coops

James Cooper behind the bar at Jimmy Coops

Vaughan was a strong voice when designing the menu and it delivers food that works side by side with the Lakeman beers on tap.  There’s huge gourmet burgers, cheesy toasties and an array of loaded goodies.  My favourite has to be the ‘DJ The Goucho’ a Mexico-inspired burger with spice smashed beef dripping in jalapeno IPA cheese sauce.  The burger is perfectly matched with a Jimmy Coops IPA really bringing the chilli to life.

Running a sheep and beef farm, full-time operating brewery and opening a new venue has been a real challenge but James is quick to pour praise on Elissa who worked alongside Vaughan and Leanne to bring the project to life.  This left James able to focus on calving, lambing and brewing great beer.

Looking ahead to the summer months; James hopes to spend more time with the team at Jimmy Coops.  He sees a big opportunity to upskill the team with beer knowledge so they are able to talk to each of the Lakeman beers and improve the experience for each and every customer who enters the venue. Being a local I’m looking forward to many an afternoon parked up on the beautiful Taupō lakefront enjoying a wonderfully brewed Lakeman beer.