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Local Cafes Grounded By Sculptures Pop-Up

By Marcus Braid on December 11, 2014 in News

Photo: Alex Andria

Photo: Alex Andria

Concern is building among local business owners that the pop-up Grounds of Alexandria café will become a permanent fixture at Marks Park in Tamarama.

A petition has been erected on by The Grounds of Alexandria to ‘Keep the Grounds by the Sea in Bondi for the Summer’, calling for locals to convince Waverley Council to allow the café to remain a fixture after the conclusion of Sculpture by the Sea.

Hannah More, owner of The Bogey Hole Café in Bronte, is worried the petition could result in a permanent negative affect on surrounding local businesses.

“Waverley Council, support your local businesses,” Ms More said. “Yes, it was good for the pop-up, but it has really hurt all the local businesses and I wouldn’t be signing the petition.”

Ms More said the effect of the Grounds of Alexandria’s new café has been “massively noticeable”.

“I think it’s really, really wrong and really, really unfair for local businesses,” she said.

“It’s not like we had any notice that they were doing it. If Sculpture by the Sea had given the same opportunity to the local businesses, I’m sure one of the them would have done something.”

Ms More pointed to the other difficulties Bronte businesses already had to deal with, including parking restrictions.

“[Grounds of Alexandria] are open 7am-7pm,” Ms More said. “We have so many restrictions with opening hours and I know there’s only allowed to be so many cafes open for dinner, but they were able to be open for 12 hours and then extend.”

Carmen Alicea, owner of Barlovento in Tamarama, lamented that the Grounds of Alexandria had taken “more than half of the business I used to get from Sculptures”.

“That’s the first point of sale that people see,” she said. “There are definitely not as many people here, because they’re not looking for a place to get something to eat or drink. People who aren’t locals don’t venture further than the path and the park now.”

Several business owners are upset the tender for the pop-up café was not awarded locally.

“It really upset me, especially because they didn’t consult me; I had no idea,” Ms Alicea said. “I am actually the closest café to Marks Park. I’ve been here longer than the sculptures have been around, because I’ve been here for 20 years.”

Anji Head, manager of Café Salina and Pure Bronte Pistachio at Bronte Beach, acknowledged the appeal of pop-up cafes, but said it should have been a local business operating from the park.

“The one thing that has disappointed the cafes down here is that none of them were offered the position first, before getting an outside café in to do it,” she said. “We just thought that was a little bit of a shame. They do a great job, but I think first and foremost it should have been offered amongst the local cafes prior to being offered further abroad.

“We’re still doing a good trade down here, but I think it would have an impact. There’s talk of it becoming a permanent fixture as well. If that were to be the case, it would have been nice if it had been put out amongst the local people first and then extended further if there was no interest down here.”

Sculpture by the Sea director David Handley said the Grounds of Alexandria tender was “extraordinary”.

“We put it out to tender this year and it was an extraordinary tender with what they were prepared to put into the operation,” he said.

“I had a chat with Allan at Tama Café and he’s been really happy with the amount of business he’s gotten, and I know on the weekend the Tama Surf Life Saving Club was also happy.

“What’s happening here with the Grounds means more revenue for our organisation than we’ve had in the past. We’ve had a really good relationship with these guys and they’ve been generous in their offering to us, as well as what they’ve put into the amenities to the public.

“I’m not sure if it’s having an impact on any of the other local cafes. I certainly know most of the guys we’ve worked with, like the Bondi Tratt, are as busy as ever.

“We’ve always had a café; this is just on a bigger scale.”