If liquor licence applications are a measure of hospitality business confidence, then Docklands is experiencing a revival.
In the period from August 27 to October 18, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) received 10 applications from businesses in the Docklands area. This represents a sizeable increase in applications from this time last year.
By contrast, comparative inner-city suburbs Richmond and Southbank have each documented six liquor licence applications in the same period.
In NewQuay, the renaissance is being led by Chinese billionaire Li Fucheng who reportedly bought the freehold of the former Medici Bar and Ristorante in August for $3.3 million.
VCGLR liquor licence application records show that the trading company for the business, QV One Pty Ltd, and with assistance from On Tap Liquor Consulting, has applied for a licence under the name Springmont Meat & Wine.
The records are consistent with reports from Forbes that Mr Li plans to establish a fine dining restaurant pitched at the booming number of residents and tourists in the area.
Pedestrian Counting System figures compiled by City of Melbourne show that foot traffic has increased on NewQuay Promenade between the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 financial years – increasing business demand.
In 2017-2018, the hourly pedestrian count 52-week average stood at 488, a healthy increase from the 2016-2017 financial year average of 391.
On October 21 at 2pm, the NewQuay hourly pedestrian count reached an exciting monthly high of 747, suggesting that a revitalisation of the precinct is underway.
In other liquor licensing news, Four Points By Sheraton and Cocobei in Docklands Drive have each applied for a variation to their licence, Pizza Hut Docklands has applied for a restaurant licence and Pizza Societe in South Wharf Drive has applied for a BYO permit.
At The District Docklands, two applications have been lodged by “food court” businesses in Star Circus. Old Man Pho and TT Leasing have both applied for restaurant and cafe licences.
The NewQuay Grocery in Rakiai Way has applied for a packaged liquor licence.
And at Yarra’s Edge, the re-badged Corniche restaurant (formerly Jasmin) has also applied for a restaurant and cafe licence.
At the time of writing, the VCGLR had granted 14 permanent liquor licences in Docklands since July 1, with the expectation that more licence applications would be approved in the lead-up to Christmas and the New Year.
One possible reason for the increase in applications is the recent changes made to Victoria’s liquor licensing laws under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998.
The Liquor and Gambling Legislation Amendment Act was passed back in June 2018 and many amendments to the processing of licence applications and transfers came into effect on October 11.