At some point, every business starts to think about expansion. In the fickle hospitality sector, this can be a make-or-break investment, particularly amidst the global turmoil of a pandemic where sudden lockdowns and social restrictions have become the new norm.
Despite this, hospitality venues are still thriving in Brisbane, and investment in the sector remains strong. The $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf precinct set to open next year, for instance, boasts space for more than 50 restaurants and bars, as well as 40,000sqm of retail space, 2000 residential apartments and four hotels.
Nestled under the Story Bridge, the newly restored Howard Smith Wharves have been developed into a popular entertainment and lifestyle precinct with a variety of restaurants, bars and event spaces, as well as world-class accommodation.
Eagle Street Pier, in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, is also in the midst of a $2 billion redevelopment by Dexus that will confirm its status as Brisbane’s premium waterfront dining destination.
Since opening in Fortitude Valley in 2019, City Winery Brisbane has quickly become a Brisbane institution. After a successful expansion into the CBD with their Edward Street location, the brand’s owners decided that Eagle Street Pier would be the ideal position for their second venue in the City.
“Our landlords at Edward Street reached out to us about another site they own in Brisbane, and next minute we were talking and looking at a site on Eagle Street,” says City Winery co-founder Adam Penberthy.
“Of course, looking out over the Story Bridge and the Brisbane River makes it a pretty amazing spot to come to work each day!”
Penberthy says business has been strong for the new establishment since it opened in May, while their existing locations continue to do a roaring trade.
“Week on week we’re seeing improvement [at Eagle Street],” he says. “It’s like any new business, it takes time to really flourish.
“Despite the uncertainty of COVID, Brisbane’s a great place to do business. Since June last year, at the tail end of the first COVID lockdowns, we’ve doubled in size as a company, which has been driven by activating these new sites.”
Penberthy says support for the Eagle Street Pier venue hasn’t just come from patrons, but from other businesses in the precinct.
“It’s an incredible community down on the Pier, and seeing Eagle Street come alive for events like Sea to the City has been beyond brilliant,” he says.
“The traders here work really well off one another. It’s an incredibly supportive group, which has been fantastic to see. On our first night of trade, the owner of the restaurant next door came in to see if we needed anything or any extra staff to get through the insanely busy launch night.
“Being surrounded by people like this, people that are genuinely passionate about the success of their peers and the traders around them, is something we are thrilled to be a part of.”
City Winery is just one of a number of restaurants to open in the Eagle Street Pier precinct in recent months. CBD mainstay Coppa Spuntino opened at Eagle Street after closing the doors of its Creek Street location, and owner Tom Sanceau says he has noticed an evolution in Brisbane’s hospitality scene since making the move.
“We’re getting a lot of people who are stopping in after work, having a couple of small plates, a couple of sprizters and a couple of frozen Proseccos and then going home, and that’s great,” he says.
“One thing I’ve noticed about Brisbane is that people used to just leave the city straight after they finished work. Now, they’re not rushing home. They’re sticking around and catching up with friends for a few drinks. It’s becoming more like Barcelona and other European cities that have that more cosmopolitan culture. That’s certainly very encouraging for us.”
Looking to grow your hospitality business in Brisbane? The Brisbane Business Hub is a space for entrepreneurs across all industries in Brisbane to come together and connect, with in-person workshops and events and one-on-one mentoring. Visit our centrally located space in the CBD at Level 2, 155 Queen Street, Brisbane City, or explore webinars, case studies and free online courses through our virtual hub.