South Bank traders 'pushed out' of riverside precinct

Marissa Calligeros
Italian restaurant Dell'Ugo has been told it is 'not the right fit' for South Bank's changing tastes.
Italian restaurant Dell'Ugo has been told it is 'not the right fit' for South Bank's changing tastes. Photo: Supplied

Long-serving South Bank restaurateurs, cafe owners and traders are fuming at being “pushed out” of the riverside precinct as South Bank Corporation looks to change the “mix” of offerings on Grey and Little Stanley streets.

Italian restaurant Dell'Ugo will be forced to close its doors at the end of the year after South Bank Corporation refused to renew its lease and put the fine-dining space out to tender.

Much-loved family-run bakery and cafe Poppy’s Basket will also close after 12 years on Little Stanley Street with its premises also being put out to tender.

Grey Street, South Bank.
Grey Street, South Bank. Photo: South Bank Corporation

Other South Bank staples T-Licious and the Lucky 7 convenience store face the same fate.

Dell'Ugo manager Yianni Passaris said he was disappointed by the treatment of South Bank Corporation.*

“We’ve basically been pushed out,” he said.

“It’s 10 years of hard work down the drain. We can’t sell, so we have to close and walk away with nothing.”

The restaurant’s owners spent $50,000 renovating the space last year only to be told by South Bank Corporation the a la carte menu no longer fit the “mix” of traders in the Grey Street precinct, Mr Passaris said.

“They said we were too fine-dining for the street, they said they wanted a different ‘feel’ here,” he said.

“South Bank is a precinct not a food court.”

Mr Passaris said South Bank Corporation asked the business to continue trading through the G20 World Leaders’ Summit in November, but would not guarantee its future beyond 2015.

“We were invited to put in a tender, but we were told we wouldn’t have first preference,” he said.

A spokesman for South Bank Corporation said the organisation was aiming to create a “contemporary dining precinct” that was reflective of “evolving dining trends” in Brisbane and interstate.

“Sometimes the existing concepts no longer fit in with the retail mix,” the spokesman said.

“Leases are continuously reviewed as they approach expiry and evaluated against our current leasing strategy.

“We are always looking to reinvigorate the street with new concepts, and look for opportunities to progress our food and beverage offer within an evolving and competitive dining industry.”

The spokesman confirmed the spaces currently occupied by Dell Ugo, T-Licous, Lucky 7, and Poppy’s Basket had been put out to tender.

“South Bank Corporation is currently seeking experienced local and interstate restaurant and bar operators to express their interest across four tenancies within our Little Stanley and Grey Street precinct,” he said.

“Anticipated openings for successful applicants will be early to mid 2015.”

*Clarification: Brisbane City Council has managed South Bank Parklands since 2012.