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Thursday 09 October 2008

K' Road's Kamo - Under new management

Posted in: Community
By Matt Akersten - 18th June 2008

Kamo's new owners Ant Jones & Loren Boothby
"The great thing about Kamo is the sense of community you get from it. We want it to be a brilliant gay meeting place."

Meet Loren Boothby and Antony Jones - the new owners of K' Road's Kamo café and bar, who over the next few months plan to build up the venue's theme nights, menu and community spirit, making Kamo a hub of Auckland LGBT culture and nightlife.

Both men might be familiar to those who prop up the bar just down the road at men's gay venue Urge. Ant was a DJ there, and Loren was behind the bar and host of special events including the Mr Urge NZ Bear pageant.

Ant's an Englishman, born in Yorkshire, settling in New Zealand eight years ago. He has two decades' experience running bars and clubs all over England, but since arriving in Aotearoa has mostly worked DJing and as part of the crew at community theatre productions. "It's always been my aim to run a gay bar - but I never thought it would ever happen," he says.

Loren has plenty of experience in the bar trade too, and has a star-touched past as an actor and TV movie screenplay writer. An American, he comes from gay mega city San Francisco, but also spent time in Spain and the Caribbean before settling in Auckland three and a half years ago. He's pleased to be the Kamo key-holder now, having looked into the building's long salty history as a naval seamen's stop-off in Auckland's early days (with a brothel upstairs operating for decades, but now used for accommodation).

Kamo: A K' Road mainstay
When we visited Kamo to see the guys, they were busy organising to reopen the kitchen. They could offer little more then a bowl of hot chips in their first couple of weeks in charge - but say they're getting their full lunch and dinner menu up and running any day now. Once that's ticking along, they'll turn their attention to weekly events which they hope will add something new to K' Road's busy gay and lesbian social scene.

Girls' Retro nights used to pack Kamo with lesbians bopping to '70's and '80's classics once a month a few years ago, and the new owners are looking forward to getting those going again on fortnightly Friday nights, perhaps along with a Dykes on Mikes karaoke evening. Other events may benefit worthy community charities, with Loren and Ant inviting ideas for fundraisers which Kamo can host. A Quiz night would be a great idea for early in the week, while the monthly Sunday OUTLine BBQ's will continue, says Ant. The new NZ Bears group will also meet regularly at Kamo.

"We're not competing with any of the other gay businesses along K' Road," Ant makes clear. "We just want to give something to the community. A place we can all share in."

Keep an eye on's News section and Events guide for happenings at Kamo - and as always, see our Scene Pics section for event photos.

Matt Akersten - 18th June 2008