In 1958, over fifty years ago, Valerie and Phillip Littlejohn opened Orsini’s Restaurant in Wellington. Then, two decades ago, the Littlejohn family bought Sails Restaurant in Auckland. This professional restaurant family shares a passion for all aspects of great dining experiences. Now, several restaurants later, Valerie and her son Bart, true restaurateurs, operate Sails restaurant with a dedicated team of hospitality professionals who have worked with them for well over a decade.

bartBart Littlejohn is a product of his environment. Raised and educated in his parents’ Wellington restaurant, Orsini’s, he began his ‘official’ apprenticeship at the age of fifteen in Orsini’s of Auckland. After working all positions from pot washer to duty manager, Bart went on to work in many of Auckland’s and Sydney’s famous restaurants and hotels.

After a five-year OE in Europe working as a Corporate Sales Manager and Retail Manager for Boisdale Wines, Chelsea, Bart returned to Auckland to manage Bell House for the second time with owner chef Simon Gault before buying Sails Restaurant in 1991.

gerardGerard Mooney was raised in Christchurch but moved to Auckland to pursue a career in hospitality. He started in cafés, but it was Gerard’s determination and willingness that got him his job at Sails Restaurant. He joined the team as a runner in 1994. He soon undertook a hospitality apprenticeship, progressing through the ranks to take over as Restaurant manager.

Gerard has worked closely with Bart over the years to develop the Sails restaurant of today. As well as supervising the daily running of the restaurant, Gerard also controls the extensive cellar wine list with valued advice from the sommelier team.

JeffMichelin trained Chef Jeff Scott Foster from Europe who has learnt from the best including, Marco Pierre White, Anthony Worrall Thompson, Gordon Ramsay, Albert Roux and Michael Roux Jr. “Jeff says” It is important for me to continue the evolution of Sails Restaurant, I will be introducing some new dishes however will retain the essence of Sails.
Sails Restaurant is fortunate to have Dean Larking, one of most experienced and knowledgeable sommelier in New Zealand, to assist diners in making a selection from the Sails cellar. His advice is invaluable, whether you want to match food and wine, contrast styles, or simply get some professional advice on vintages in order to enhance your enjoyment of the Sails experience.

For the Sails team, wine plays an important part in their culture, and the evolution of wine is a constant topic of conversation.