MIDLAND Gate’s revamped Cale Street dining precinct has taken a hit with Chatters restaurant closing its doors citing high rents for making it difficult to sustain a profitable business.
Chatters, which has been operating for more than a decade at the centre, is the second eating establishment to shut up shop since the $100 million expansion of the Midland Gate shopping centre.
The Sandpiper Cafe closed down before Christmas after 30 years when Midland Gate management terminated its lease.
The cafe said it was unable to pay $1000 a day in rent and that they had lost business when their passing trade was cut off during the shopping centre’s revamp.
Midland Gate centre manager Alison Broadbent said they were still working on a resolution with the cafe.
“Sandpiper Cafe has been a valued part of the Midland Gate community for many years and we’re working with the team at Sandpiper Cafe as they assess their options to continue trading at Midland Gate,” she said.
“Due to the nature of the discussions we cannot provide any more detail at this stage.”
However Midland Gate has confirmed they are looking for a new tenant to fill the vacancy left by Chatters.
Ms Broadbent said management had been in constant contact with the team at Chatters for several years regarding their lease.
“We understand the departure of Chatters from our centre will cause some disappointment to our customers,” she said.
“We see this as an opportunity for our team to work with new retailers to fill this space, and this is part of our business as usual as a shopping centre.
“Our team is always listening to our customers and looking at ways to make the experience at Midland Gate better, easier and more enjoyable.
“We know people want to come together and experience our retailers and brands, and our community sees Midland Gate as their local hub and meeting place, and this is something we are especially proud of.
“We look forward to updating our customers, retailers and the community when there’s more to share.”
In a Facebook message to its customers, Chatters in Midland said they were touched by the overwhelming support they had received since closing.
“That really gave us a boost in our fight,” the post said.
“Chatters is and will always be a family business, run by the same family for almost 20 years now.
“The good news is that Chatters (at) Morley is still open and the chefs from Midland are now in Morley working together.
“We hope to see you in the Morley store while we are trying to work something out.”
A post on the Midland Ward Community Facebook page attracted thousands of comments from locals who were stunned that the popular restaurant was closing.
MWC spokeswoman Rashelle Predovnik said the latest rent hike would force Chatters to charge $16 for fried rice, making them too pricey for Midland.
“We’ve posted about a lot of businesses closing down in the past year, including Cafe di Mondo, Viva Photography, Marmalades, Midland Tuition Centre, the Midland Newsagency and Heart of a Gypsy,” she said.
“But it was the closure of Chatters that really hit a nerve with the community and it prompted more shares, comments and outrage this week than we’ve ever seen before.”