Lookout! Galway’s a go while Beach Bar’s a Peach
Publicans and restaurateurs have spent more than $5 million on a string of refurbishments and new developments in the flourishing precinct around Scarborough.
The Scarborough Beach Bar, Peach Pit, The Lookout, and soon The Galway Hooker are among the venues at the vanguard of what has become a hospitality resurgence in Scarborough.
It follows about 15 months of extended financial pressure on local businesses during the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority’s $100 million renewal of the beachfront precinct, which was completed about this time last year.
During that period, some businesses were forced to fold while others only just managed to survive.
The latest venue to open on The Esplanade is Scarborough Beach Bar, a revival of the original bar that opened in 2014 and went into administration last year.
The site was bought by Ark Group in November 2018, adding to its portfolio of Market Grounds, Durty Nelly’s and Generous Squire in the city, and Duke Bar and Bistro in Carramar.
The company also opened the Peach Pit in November, replacing its previous offering, the Squire’s Fortune.
Scarborough Beach Bar will officially welcome patrons this week, while Ark plans to launch The Galway Hooker nearby later this year.
Adam Kapinkoff. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira
Ark general manager Adam Kapinkoff told Business News the three Scarborough venues would be targeting different parts of the market.
Peach Pit would attract younger groups, Scarborough Beach Bar more mature clientele, and Galway would be an Irish pub, Mr Kapinkoff said.
Beach Bar’s theme draws on bars in California and Byron Bay, bright and approachable, he said, with an elevated outlook on the coast.
“It was just about giving it a new identity … and putting our Ark Group stamp on it,” Mr Kapinkoff said.
He said Scarborough had been through a challenging period during the redevelopment, but the area had changed significantly from six or seven years ago.
“We love what’s occured with the precinct,” Mr Kapinkoff said.
“Now (the redevelopment is) done it looks great, welcomes families, there’s a lot more activation in the area, it’s got a whole raft of food and beverage facilities it didn’t have before, it’s got the pool.
“There’s a lot more reason for people to come down to Scarborough, it’s quite a wide demographic.
“We’re pretty optimistic about the future of Scarborough and what the precinct brings to Perth.
“We saw it as the biggest and most diverse coastal precinct that we have, we’re pretty bullish on it.”
Scarborough Beach Bar. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira
The Galway Hooker, the name refers to an old type of Irish boat, is going through the approvals process, Mr Kapinkoff said.
“The fitout is fully imported from Ireland, it’s a pretty authentic, traditional Irish pub,” he said.
“We’re going to have a huge Irish whiskey collection, a Guiness-only cool room, some bespoke Irish cocktails.”
Ark Group is not the only business banking on a boom in Scarborough, with one industry insider estimating at least $5 million had been spent on refurbishments and investment during the past 18 months.
Peach Pit. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira
One big investment was at Italian restaurant La Capannina, which cost an estimated $2 million.
Located south of the Scarborough Beach Road intersection, La Capannina opened in May 2018.
Numerous industry participants who spoke to Business News highlighted that Scarborough was now appealing to a diverse range of patrons, with families and younger revellers coming from all of Perth’s northern suburbs.
A second substantial project was The Lookout bar, developed by Capitol and Amplifier nightclub owners Capitol Corp.
It opened in April 2018 at the site of the old Matisse beach club, which went into administration in June 2017.
The Lookout is notable for its bowling lanes, which Capitol Corp owner David Heaton told Business News had been included to differentiate the venue.
“The expectations of the millennial market going forward are a lot greater than they used to be,” Mr Heaton said.
“I felt (bowling) really suited the area, it’s an activity-based area, Scarborough.
“(When travelling) I started to see this whole change in the way people go out.
“Ultimately, the way that hospitality is going in the future, particularly at Capitol Corp, will be to have an entertainment element to everything we do.”
Scarborough’s renaissance has extended inland to the Indian Ocean Hotel on Hastings Street, with general manager Mateus Bourget telling Business News that a new team led by Marcus Sarich had been running the establishment since July.
Long-term owner Andrew Grove reportedly bought the building back from receivers in 2016, while Mr Sarich, who founded Red Hill Auditorium, is leasing the operation.
Mr Bourget said Indian Ocean had undergone a refresh and was styled with a 1970s Las Vegas hotel theme.
“We still want to keep the ‘dive bar’ experience, which is very important to us,” he said.
Part of the changes were to make the building’s frontage more visible, and upgrade the bar and pool room.
Mr Bourget said the resurgence of venues on the foreshore had not been a problem for the hotel, which was separated from the beach by West Coast Highway.
“Our first thought was they’re (competitors) going to eat us,” he said.
“But actually we are an experience, what people are looking to get here is something they would never get on the beachfront.
“When people come through the door, they’ve got an amazing vibe here.
“(The redevelopment) helped us … it dragged a lot of people into Scarborough.”
Continued focus on live music was part of the strategy at the Indian Ocean Hotel, as it has been for El Grotto.
El Grotto is one of the survivors on The Esplanade, having opened in December 2015, while Oceans 6019 has lasted since 2010.
El Grotto co-owner Kane Hipper told Business News there had been tough months during the redevelopment but the team had worked hard to keep things fresh and give people a reason to visit.
Mr Hipper said his team had been constantly reinvesting in the business, although a wider facelift was on the cards for spring.
The past year had been highly successful since the development was completed, he said, and potential residential tower projects in the pipeline were cause for excitement.
One positive trend was an increase in day trade, lunch and afternoon patronage, and more families, many of which visited El Grotto’s restaurant space.