Cruise Bar to close for rest of the year at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal

Scott Bolles
A rise in the number of cruise ships has led to the re-development of the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
A rise in the number of cruise ships has led to the re-development of the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Circular Quay's sprawling three-level Cruise Bar and its upmarket restaurant will close on Saturday night, the latest casualty in the redevelopment of the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

The venue's owner, publican Chris Cheung, confirmed the closure. Unlike other recent restaurant departures from the terminal, he plans to retain the lease and reopen in 2015. In the meantime, as many as 40 full-time and casual jobs will be lost.

Cheung has been able to transfer some staff to his other venues, such as the Coogee Bay Hotel, but said it was impossible to trade through building work at the terminal.

"There's hoarding around us, there's jack-hammering. Access is bad. At the moment I have more staff than customers here," he said.

In recent months Peter Doyle @ the Quay and Ocean Room and Wildfire have closed as the Overseas Passenger Terminal transforms prime waterfront restaurant space on Sydney's golden pond into baggage and storage areas for increased cruise-ship traffic.

Tonci Farac, who shut Wildfire restaurant in March, said 38 full-time staff and 80-100 casual workers lost their jobs at that venue. Food and wine suppliers have also lost work.

"When you look at the whole terminal you're probably looking at around 300 [job losses]," Farac said.

When Peter Doyle @ the Quay shut earlier this month, the restaurant's website claimed its departure was "abrupt and unforeseen". Some members of staff had worked at the restaurant since the 1980s.

With a reported $50 million earmarked for the redevelopment, a sizeable chunk will need to be set aside to pay out leases. Wildfire had 13 years on its lease when it closed and Peter Doyle @ the Quay is believed to have had about seven years.

A spokesman for Sydney Ports did not comment on remaining terms of leases or compensation amounts, citing commercial confidence. He said the explosion in cruise ship numbers, from 22 ships a decade ago to 160 this year, provided obvious economic benefits. There was also some opportunity for new commercial areas in the redeveloped terminal.

Those few OPT restaurants to survive the cull have also been affected: the award-winning Quay dropped midweek lunches due to the noise of construction.

As for Cheung, he will spend the next six months giving Cruise a design makeover.