112 new cafes, bars and restaurants in Wollongong part of an economic boom
When Kaveh Akbari and his wife Carla Urosevski opened Alexander’s Bakery Southside in Crown Street Mall two weeks ago they did exactly what those encouraging economic development in the city want to see.
Since 2012 there have been 112 new cafes, bars and restaurants open in Wollongong’s city centre.
Wollongong economic development manager Mark Grimson said a new audit by his team at council shows there are 150 such outlets in the CBD. That number does not include fast food outlets.
“The results highlight the success and vibrancy of the city centre despite retail doing it a bit tough. There is a whole new cohort of young entrepreneurs who have a very positive outlook for the city,” Mr Grimson said.
While a number of the new outlets replace others that have closed many are new businesses run by new operators in new buildings.
“And over the next 24 months the 15 cranes on the skyline represent 900 additional units and 30,000sqm of new commercial space. That means there will be a lot more people living and working in our CBD who will further support retail and this new coffee, restaurant and small bar culture”.
Invest Wollongong is sharing the vibrant message to attract more people interested in bringing job creating businesses to the city. Mr Grimson said spruiking the exciting things happening will help improve perceptions in Sydney and beyond and encourage investment.
In recent months Mr Akbari and Mrs Urosevski have married, moved house, had a baby and started a new business. Moving from Rockdale to Scarborough to live is the realisation of a long held dream for Mr Akbari who came to Australia as a refugee in his childhood. He fell in love with Wollongong and its lifestyle on a visit to Stanwell Park as a 22 year old.
“I said to myself one day I am going to live here. 14 years later I got married and we decided this is where we wanted to have a family and establish ourselves”.
The couple used to run a gym with a cafe inside in Rockdale and Mrs Urosevski’s parents Tom and Francis Urosevski ran a bakery nearby called Alexander’s Bakery.
When the gym started its clients stopped eating carbs and Mr Akbari’s father-in-law always told him he would get him into the bakery business one day.
The couple received a great response to the Burek they sold at a popup shop at Bulli and Wollongong markets when the site became available in the mall.
Alexander’s Bakery Southside specialises in Burek but is doing a fresh take on it. They also sell coffee, bread and salads.
“The thing about Wollongong is it is diverse and very welcoming. It gives out such a warm and welcoming feeling”.
Article & Images: Greg Ellis