The Brisbane Report

16 November, 2017 by Vanessa Cavasinni

As news of pub activity in Brisbane has increased significantly of late, we spoke to several local operators to gauge the pitfalls and opportunities in the Queensland capital.

With increased residential development, the winning campaign for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and the construction of a significant new dining precinct within the CBD, there are plenty of positive factors for an increase in appetite for pubs within Brisbane. The market is reflecting this, with some big transactions happening on either side of the river, a couple of greenfields venues and some major redevelopments of established hotels.

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Interstate operators are taking a keen interest in the city as well, with Pelathon purchasing and renovating the Grand Central Hotel in the CBD, and Open Arms Hospitality and Solotel both in the midst of constructing new venues in the Southbank precinct.

While for the most part it looks like Brisbane is an attractive market for expansive operators and investors, the one drawback remains compliance legislation, in particular the new mandatory ID scanning in certain precincts within the city which has been heavily critiqued by hoteliers.

With so many pros and one big con to contend with, Australian Hotelier spoke to several established Brisbane publicans to get a better picture of the pub market in the city.

F&B

As with other metro areas in Australia, operators are using a re-modelling of their food offering as a driver to increase patronage. Food is now viewed by many operators as the first thing to get people in the door, who can then spend money on other streams, as explained by Brian Fitzgibbons, director of the revamped Osbourne Hotel in Fortitude Valley (formerly Fringe Bar).

“It’s all about F&B. With a big emphasis on beverages, but you’ve got to have great food to get the people in. But the beverage is where we can do much better volume, of course.”

For a lot of operators, this means having a more casual offering at budget-friendly prices to increase visitor frequency. At The Belvedere at Woody Point, Drinx Group changed their menu when they renovated the hotel just under a year ago to increase patron frequency. Not only was a more casual offering emphasised in the menu – burgers, salads, pub classics – but the prices were lowered to mainly sit in the $16-25 range, to entice visitors to come to the pub more often.

At Fox Hotel, Colonial Leisure Group’s first foray into the Brisbane pub scene, a similar philosophy has been undertaken, with $4 pizzas and $5 burgers during happy hour. General manager Scott Campbell said the activation has been a big success for the hotel, with very little marketing needed.

At the Port Office Hotel in the CBD, owner and operator Nick Gregorksi cites a good food offering having a knock-on effect into other business drivers.

“We’ve always been food-focused. We think if you get your offering right, food being number one and beverage being close behind, we believe that then the rest will follow, functions will follow.”

To read the rest of the report, which includes a look at gaming, tourism, legislation and property, click here. This report was written in partnership with Ray White Hotels.