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4/02/2016

Wine Odyssey forced to close

Wine Odyssey, an innovative wine bar located in a Sydney’s popular waterfront location The Rocks, has been forced to close its doors after almost eight years in business after the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority announced they are seeking a “more relevant” tenant.

The ‘cellar door in the city’, which offered tourists and Sydney-siders the opportunity to taste wines from the most popular regions of Australia, has been referred to as a “lifeline” for smaller producers to enter the mainstream market.

Angela Brown, co-owner of Wine Odyssey, said she was “gutted” by the decision after she and co-owner Lynette Rae put their own life savings into restoring the bar, which was previously a high traffic site that lay derelict for the than eight years.

“Not only have the decisions of a couple of public servants been able to have such a devastating effect on our business, but it’s our livelihood, and that of the small wine producers which we represent that hurts us the most,” Brown said.

Brown said the “crippling effect on the business” took hold when the landlord forced capital renovations to the premises without offering any rent relief which closed the business for a number of weeks some 18 months ago.

At that time, Brown said she was assured that a new five-year lease was in the pipeline however negotiations for the new lease soured in light of the renovation fiasco which continues and set down for hearing in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal later this month.

With the initial lease term having expired and without warning, the landlord put the lease of the premises out to public tender in late 2015, yet only one week ago the fully paid-up, incumbent tenant was told that its bid for a new lease was unsuccessful and given one week to vacate and “make good” having occupied the site for almost eight years.

Brown said Wine Odyssey was located on a highly sought after old Australian On/Off Liquor licence in the middle of a lock out zone, which had a further devastating effect on the negotiations for a new lease.

“While we are completely crippled, mentally, physically, emotionally and financially, we hold our heads high, in the knowing that we have done what we can do for the Australian wine industry, and small business,” she said. “We pride ourselves on the fact that we always paid our suppliers, staff and rent, and we have put our all into developing what was a great little business on so many fronts, that we put our heart and soul into.”

Lynette Rae, co-owner of Wine Odyssey, said the business had to draw a line in the sand somewhere.  

“It feels like the big end of town have some sort of power over us little people in the knowing that we won’t put up the money to fight what we believe is unconscionable,” she said. “And that’s another win for the Authorities and certain individuals within these Authorities whose conduct is questionable. We can sleep at night knowing we gave it our all.”

“We sincerely thank all our supporters; customers, staff, colleagues and suppliers who have been of great strength to us over the past eight years. We’ll see you on our next journey, whatever that may be,” Brown and Rae said.

 

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