The team behind some of the city’s most progressive venues has a new project that promises to be a little bit Spanish and a little bit Latin.
The team behind some of the city's most progressive venues has a new project that promises to be a little bit Spanish and a little bit Latin.
The Publican Group is planning to put a South American spin on Perth’s growing passion for tapas in a new restaurant and bar for the Durack Centre on Adelaide Terrace.
The group, which owns The Aviary, The George, Wolf Lane and The Byrneleigh, wants to heighten the profile of the eastern end of the central business district as a destination for diners, much like it did with The George on St Georges Terrace.
“We felt that (the eastern) part of the city was in need of a venue that could accommodate the residents and the corporate part of that end of the city,” The Publican Group co-founder John Ahearn told Gusto.
“There aren’t any good options for people to eat or drink around there.”
The development has already been granted a conditional liquor licence to cater to up to 300 people, subject to a range of conditions including that construction be completed by mid-January next year.
It’s understood the restaurant is intended for opening by November.
The vision for the venue is a relaxed South American-inspired tapas bar with seating for 60 on an outside dining terrace and a private dining room for up to 54 seats.
Mr Ahearn and his business partner, Steve Garcia, expect 75 per cent of business to come from the corporate sector, 20 per cent from Perth residents and 5 per cent from tourists.
Corporate functions are likely to account for 8 per cent of turnover.
The new venue, which is named ‘Public House Perth’ in liquor licence applications, will compete with the likes of small bar Andaluz on Howard Street, which draws on strong Spanish tapas traditions.
Mexican restaurants El Compa and La Cholita are also bringing in crowds with tapas dining, and another CBD small bar expected to open around the same time – Halcyon – will join the growing list of Spanish and South American-inspired venues.
The group’s presence in the city has been dominated by new developments such as The George and The Aviary, but it also got into in the small bar segment with its purchase of Wolf Lane last year.
Mr Ahearn says while the growing number of small bars is bringing life to the central city, that type of venue does not provide the economies of scale The Publican Group is seeking, especially in Perth’s current high-cost operating environment.
“The operating costs and labour costs are still extremely high in Perth,” he says.
“There are some glaring differences in the prices charged for things like a coffee and the wages that we pay our bar people; they’re much higher in Perth than they are in Melbourne and those costs aren’t decreasing because of a slowing economy.”
But that isn’t stopping investment in Perth, as the launch of a fifth venue proves.
Mr Ahearn says the group is not averse to the prospect of opening more Perth venues, but finds the lengthy timeframes to secure liquor licences a dissuading factor.
“It’s still difficult, time consuming and expensive to obtain (a licence), but I’m seeing a lot more compromise, a better understanding from the authority and a more fluid relationship between the different parties,” he says.
“As operators we don’t mind that because (in our circumstance) if you’ve got a good track record, you’ve got a vision for a space and you comply with all of the regulations, then you should be able to be confident about your application.”
The group also owns nine venues in Melbourne.