Ben O'Connor | 27 November 2012

High-end restaurant premises in demand in inner Brisbane

The high-end restaurant market in Brisbane continues to tick along, perhaps surprisingly.

It is well known that discretionary spending has been subdued for some time and consequently those sectors dependent on this such as department stores have been experiencing tough conditions, while non-discretionary sectors, such as supermarkets and grocery stores, are performing more strongly.

Restaurants, particularly high-end restaurants, could be put into the discretionary spending category, but for some reason they are still performing well in Brisbane.

This is evidenced by the number of well-known high-end restaurateurs and chefs expanding their successful Sydney or Melbourne-based restaurants into Queensland’s capital.

The latest high-end restaurant to open its doors in Brisbane was Pony Lounge and Dining. With two successful branches in Sydney – The Rocks and Neutral Bay – Queensland-born chef Damian Heads has opened a third at the recently revamped Eagle Street Pier in the Brisbane CBD.

Other restaurants that have expanded from Sydney or Melbourne into Brisbane include Stokehouse, which is at South Bank, and Aria, which was opened at the Eagle Street Pier by Australian chef Matt Moran around three years ago.

The expansion of these already successful restaurants into the Brisbane market was in response to demand, and while in the current economic conditions many people weren’t spending their money on non-discretionary items such as clothing and electronics, the “MasterChef-phenomenon” is leading people to continue spending money on dining out.

Over the past few years television shows such as MasterChef have sprung up and found enormous popularity amongst viewers, and this exposure to cooking has led people to becoming more interested in food.

More people are getting into cooking and are trying different types of food, and it is this rise of food connoisseurs that is pushing this part of the retail market along.”

The move into Brisbane by successful Sydney and Melbourne-based restaurants had “changed the face of dining in Brisbane”.

Before Brisbane had little choice in the way of high-end dining, but as the city has become more destinational for several of Australia’s talented chefs and restaurateurs all that has changed.

I previously worked for Stockland and was involved in all the leasing deals for the company’s Eagle Street Pier refurbishment.

Restaurateurs want a location in the inner city and a spot on the river, or at least with river views, within a dining precinct as opposed to a standalone location.

As well as the food they provide, they’re selling an experience, and the ambiance of the restaurant and its location contributes to that.

Ben O’Connor is Colliers International retail leasing director

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