Hard rockers amped by Perth plays

Business News

14th May 2014.

Perth has caught the eye of a string of international restaurant and entertainment franchises, with Hard Rock Café, Café del Mar and Gene Simmons’ Rock & Brews evaluating entering the market.

Tourism investor relations firm Inspire WA, which rose to prominence in 2011 with a $2 billion theme park plan for the Swan Valley, helped develop the chains’ interest in Western Australia.

Inspire WA director Eric Pearson said overseas interest in the state had been piqued by the Tourism Council of Western Australia’s Destination Perth guide, released in March.

Mr Pearson told Business News he had received official expressions of interest from the restaurant chains after supplying franchising representatives with the opportunities outlined in the document.

Café del Mar’s WA ambitions appear to be the most advanced, after its flagship Sydney restaurant launched in November last year to rave reviews from the public and the wider hospitality industry.

In a letter to Inspire WA, Café del Mar chief executive John Zappia said the chain was due to launch expansion plans over the coming months with Perth, as well as a number of other eastern states cities, crucial to its plans.

Mr Zappia said a Perth Café del Mar would stay true to the restaurant’s original concept on the San Antonio coast in Ibiza, with its westerly aspect and uninterrupted sunset views.

The chain said it would also look at launching a number of mini-sites at coastal locations to complement its flagship operations.

“Café del Mar is not only excited about our future growth in general, but at the prospect of working in Western Australia,” the letter read.

Mr Pearson said Café del Mar would be particularly suited to Fremantle, with the Ibiza-based franchise likely to show keen interest in the stalled $300 million Victoria Quay redevelopment project.

Fremantle Ports is expected to launch an expressions of interest campaign for Victoria Quay by the end of this month.

Hard Rock Café has also expressed its interest in opening in Perth, with Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tim Milsom suggesting the port city was an ideal landing spot for the franchise.

It is understood Hard Rock Café has been put in contact with developer Sirona Capital to identify a suitable site in Fremantle.

Sirona is progressing plans to redevelop the former Myer building in Fremantle in collaboration with the City of Fremantle.

Mr Pearson said Gene Simmons’ Rock & Brews was keen to open more than one venue in WA, and was considering locations from Albany all the way up to Broome to complement a flagship restaurant in Perth, which could be located in the Swan Valley, the city, or South Perth.

Mr Pearson said the theme park plan also remained in the pipeline, with Inspire WA still scouring the metropolitan area for a suitable plot of land.

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