Businessman-turned-jockey-turned-veterinarian is passionate about the challenge
Auckland, April 30, 2022
Leo Molloy is always surrounded by friends – thick and thin – and in the past two months admirers and others have been seen in his company, since he started talking about running for Auckland mayor .
The magnetism of man is such that everyone listens to him, even if he does not speak.
Leo seeks one of the most challenging jobs in the country, leading his biggest city. He is aware that it will be a demanding exercise and has nevertheless decided to take the plunge because he likes to swim in troubled waters. And no one disputes that Auckland is in trouble.
He has an inimitable passion for work and believes he can heal the city’s afflictions and solve such dreadful problems as traffic jams, poor infrastructure, the ever-increasing cost of living, the reforms of the three waters and a host of others – 1.65 million of them and growing as you count.
What keeps the man walking and bringing more and more people into his fold (stables is a better word) day by day is the growing confidence he will deliver; that he means what he says and even says what he means. There were times when you might have felt like he overstated what a mayor can do, talking about federal issues like the MIQ system and immigration.
And the hospitality industry loved it when he set the date (December 1, 2021) when he would open his Head Quarters Restaurant (strategically located in the Viaduct) even if the government continued to keep the city under lockdown.
“This man has guts,” people said and cheered when he decided to run for mayor.
And Leo has put together a team that exudes immense energy and enthusiasm.
Who is Leo Molloy and why is he becoming the talk of the town? He tells me that his life is an open book and that success has not always embraced him and yet he has never given up.
Special endearing traits
Perhaps it was his ability to endure and persist that made Leo who he is today.
The only thing he dropped out of early was school.
“I am a friend to all businesses, especially small ones, because they need all the support and assistance to make our city more productive,” he said.
Leo looks no older than 66 (born in Greymouth in 1956) and is proud of his Irish-Catholic heritage. His father, Kevin Molloy was a soldier (which explains his fighting spirit) and mechanic, and his mother Maureen worked in the ROA colliery near Blackball.
When Leo was 11, his father tragically passed away, leaving his mother alone to raise him and his six siblings. Through adversity, she taught him the values of hard work and personal responsibility, the two traits that set him apart as a man of the people.
Fiercely independent, Leo left home at the age of 15 and spent the next four years as an apprentice jockey. On his way down, he sought employment at the Ohau B Waitaki Power Project in Twizel, with the sole purpose of earning enough money to leave for his overseas experience.
It was while working with horses in the UK that Leo realized he wanted to become a veterinarian. He made the brave decision to return to New Zealand, start high school again as a mature student at 25, and study for seven years to complete his degree in veterinary surgery at Massey University. He then worked in the small animal sector, then in equine veterinary medicine, for 20 years, teaching him the values of care and respect.
The hotel business
Leo stumbled into hospitality in 1991 when he set up a student bar called Fat Ladies Arms in Palmerston North. His vision and unique approach to business have made the brand a success. The chain expanded to eight more locations and in 1997 Leo decided to move to Auckland.
In August 1999 he opened Euro on the Auckland waterfront. Euro was the first New Zealand restaurant to feature on Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s list of the world’s 50 best restaurants. This was followed by an Irish pub called Danny Doolans (named after Leo’s grandfather). Both establishments have become an integral part of Auckland’s hospitality scene.
The Returning Businessman
After selling Euro in 2002, Leo opened Cardiac. This would present Leo’s biggest challenge after the company went bankrupt. Everything Leo had built up to that point was now gone.
But giving up was not his habit and Leo had an iron will and encouraged by his mother’s teachings – hard work and personal responsibility – he was determined to rebuild his life.
He understands that mistakes are a natural part of life and is never afraid to admit them.
“Every mistake is a learning experience and every time I fall I get up and run again,” he said.
Leo’s comeback first started with Cowboys Bar in the Viaduct, then another version of the same in Queenstown, and now the iconic Headquarters restaurant and bar on Auckland’s waterfront, which is this day one of New Zealand’s most successful hospitality venues.
Fight for those in need
Leo has always been a champion of social impact and change and in recent years has led numerous fundraisers and volunteer initiatives to improve the community. He donated around 20,000 meals a year to various charities, including the Grace Foundation, a transitional housing provider.
Several years ago, Leo was introduced to Dave ‘Brown Buttabean’ Letele and, following a meeting, put Letele on the head office payroll so he could earn a living while focusing about his charity work. Leo also provided personal funding of over $200,000 to build a community kitchen in South Auckland for Buttabean Motivation (BBM) and organized several fundraisers at the head office, raising over $200,000 for BBM.
Vision for Auckland
Leo thinks it’s time to give back to the community and get into public service.
“I am running for Mayor of Auckland because I believe our city’s best days are ahead of us. I believe Auckland’s potential has been held back for too long and there is nothing stopping us from having a city world-class on the Pacific Rim up to Brisbane, Vancouver or San Francisco,” he said.
Leo has a plan to secure Auckland’s future and help our city reach its full potential.
Despite all the success the head office has had over the years, Leo has decided to close it on May 21, 2022. But it will open the next day, just for a few hours to hold a large gathering where he officially announces his decision to move on. enter the mayor’s ring.
It may sound unusual, but that’s the Leo brand.