The Blue Lake — A Story of Sustained Financial Success in The Hospitality Industry

Sebastian Burke bought a middling pizza and pasta restaurant and transformed it into an award-winning Food & Beverage destination in Tekapo. The journey to creating and maintaining a successful business was all about learning what the tools of good business are and how to use them best.

Putting finances first.

Oftentimes people don’t like to talk about money. But Sebastian found that if all your financial ducks are in a row the business is in a better position to not only be profitable but take care of its people.


“If your finances are in order you can look after your people.”


In the early days, they focused on the kitchen, creating a menu that was more manageable and cost-effective; an essential in the hospo game. Other areas of finance he came to understand are vital to focus on our core costs and wages. In our current climate of inflation, it is ever apparent how important it is to control costs. THC’s Finance First Approach has been a key part of The Blue Lake’s profitability and this business method helped him achieve a Net Operating Profit (NOP) of 21% in 22/23FY.

Mastering the systems to help his business thrive.

Systemising his business was the key to managing it. Having the right systems in place meant that Sebastian could ensure things ran smoothly and the business achieved consistent results. But first, he had to learn how to best utilise these systems. 


“Coaching brings together all the other stuff and allows you to better utilise the systems. It teaches you how to get the best out of things. Like Loaded, it couldn’t help our business until we were coached to do so.”


Once he had honed his own skills and empowered his team to do the same it gave the business a strong foundation to excel in both areas of profitability, but also as a venue with exceptional service. The Blue Lake is all about delivering a really great experience and knowing how to use the systems enables them to do so.

Creating a motivated team. 

In a business often at the mercy of seasonality and with a frequently transient workforce, Sebastian realised how important it is to work on the employee culture. Prioritising training, making people feel a part of the team, and valuing their input has created a business with a flourishing team culture. 


“It really comes down to that team approach. We don’t micromanage anything, everyone has input.”


These days his team is so invested and proficient he can step away back and concentrate on the aspects of his business he is most passionate about and know that the rest will run smoothly. He also found how impactful Open Book Management and THC’s incentivisation program can be to increase productivity and staff retention.

Factors of Success:

  1. Get the help you need and expert advice from a coach
  2. Empower yourself to prioritise the financials 
  3. Master systems so you can control the trajectory of your business
  4. Cultivate a winning and motivated team