Scarborough business owners optimistic about the future as beach redevelopment takes shape

Rip Curl Scarborough manager Mike Counsel and owner Wayne Bowen from the Scarborough Beach Association. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.
Rip Curl Scarborough manager Mike Counsel and owner Wayne Bowen from the Scarborough Beach Association. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.

THE Scarborough redevelopment has been a difficult journey for beachfront business owners, but those remaining are hopeful their resolve will be rewarded.

For The Sandbar owner Ben Randall, business took a “nosedive” a year ago when fences went up around the boundary of his restaurant and The Esplanade was closed to traffic.

The venue’s usually high February/March 2017 sales figures were akin to its low season trade during winter.

Mr Randall, who bought the former Zanders and Torch Bar in 2013, believed his decision to cease weekday daytime trading for three winter months last year kept the business afloat.

He lamented the lack of support from the State Government, echoed by Cordingley’s Surf and Rip Curl Scarborough owner Wayne Bowen who said last month was the first during the redevelopment sales were not down on the previous year.

“It’s a long way to go to recoup what was lost,” he said.

The Sandbar owner Ben Randall and Wild Fig owner Craig Kimber. Picture: Martin Kennealey.

“But we’re optimistic.”

Craig Kimber’s Wild Fig Cafe is another survivor, but the owner said their bottom line kept creeping lower.

“To say it was a challenge is a bit of an understatement,” he said.

“We had to keep re-evaluating where bottom was.”

Boho Espresso and Matisse Beach Club were two high profile victims of the redevelopment.

Mr Kimber believed there should have been greater consultation with businesses and recognition of the substantial impact the redevelopment had on them.

“I think certainly there are lessons to be learned,” he said.

“There’s people that have lost their livelihood on the back of this.”

The State Government provided a one-off compensation payment to affected businesses and the City of Stirling contributed a one-off payment and waived alfresco dining fees and food business inspection fees.

But ask about the impending opening of the beachfront, and the response is immediately positive.

Despite the negative impacts, Mr Randall believed the redevelopment was “100 per cent” necessary.

“They’ve done an amazing job,” he said.

“Everyone’s just so excited and interested.”

Mr Bowen has seen “many, many master plans” proposed for Scarborough during his 30 years in business but was confident the long-awaited result would create a “real destination” for residents and businesses.

Mr Burke hoped people would return to their previous habits of heading to the foreshore.

“I’m definitely optimistic but there’s still a huge element of the unknown,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to what happens in the next 12 months.”

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