5 October 2022

Did somebody say KFC at Chisholm shops? Dear NIMBYs, don't ruin this one

| John Coleman
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There are fresh plans to get a fast food chain into the Chisholm Shops. Photo: File.

Three years ago, Chisholm Village proposed a Maccas on the site of the local tavern. Naturally, this caused a stir.

“Noooo,” wailed people. It’s a local meeting place for all, they said. A hub where boy has met girl and children frolic. Where a pool cue has never been lifted in anger. The issue of tip smells wafting across Tuggeranong may have even been solved at a table there. Well worth #saving, then.

It got dicey for a bit. But then, in a heroic effort that had all the ingenuity of the FBI getting Al Capone on a tax charge, the ACT Government refused to sell the toilet block next to the tavern, which killed the project.

It’s a year on from that and a cold wind is blowing dead leaves through Chisholm shops. There’s no tavern. There’s no Maccas. What there is, however, is a jab site of a toilet block 50 metres away from one that has soap. This is what you did.

And I have no doubt you’re about to do it again.

READ ALSO Plans lodged for a KFC at Chisholm shops three years after failed Maccas bid

Clearly, Chisholm Village Pty Ltd – which owns the site – is not to be put off. It’s now proposed a KFC across from the ALDI, which to me sounds uncontroversial. It’s KFC. The ads themselves tell us KFC is the great unifier: “did somebody say?” would resolve even UN Security Council disputes. And yet from the Facebook comments I’ve been seeing, I’ve got a sinking feeling we’re in for round two of vocal Tuggeranong firebrands chaining themselves to a dank cistern: “NOT ON MY TOILET BLOCK!”

I decided to look closer. What’s more important than easy KFC?

The other eateries at Chisholm shops, some say. Yes, there’s Lisa’s Chinese, there’s my favourite takeaway that always throws in two scallops when you ask for one, a Subway, a cafe up by CJ’s the butcher, a Thai restaurant, and I swear I saw a pizza place there recently.

Chisholm Shops

Chisholm Shops would look better with a KFC. Photo: File.

Essentially, Chisholm’s turning into a more pleasant version of Erindale’s Gartside Street, which – correct me if I’m wrong here – didn’t die when Macca’s moved in.

In fact, the sooner Chisholm Shops is known as a food and drink precinct, the better it will be for literally everyone involved. And everyone knows you’re not a real food court until you’ve got a KFC or a Maccas.

The parking at Chisholm Shops is already fraught, say yet others; imagine what manner of chaos will ensue when you have to factor in a dozen Ford Territories constipating a drive-thru. But let’s be clear about this. The KFC is going to be plonked on a car park that is usually so empty you could legally rename it Detroit. Half of it’s allocated to a car washing business – which, no offence to the business in question – is like having a sewing room and a study in your house.

Subway at Chisholm shops with coffee sign

Chisholm Takeaway’s coffee is epic – and safe from KFC. Photo: Region.

And so what if the street between ALDI and KFC ends up a bit busy at noon on a Saturday? Name one worthwhile hub in Canberra that isn’t? Erindale’s McBryde banks up occasionally. You sometimes have to wait for people on Anketell Street. If you want dead quiet, shop at Richardson.

There’s another cruel aspect of this I haven’t touched on. I think you’re actually like my mum. Whenever the family went on road trips to Sydney, she’d fight the Maccas pitstop tooth and nail before absolutely loving her McChicken.

READ ALSO Science of counting kangaroos called into question once more, so how do they do it?

If by some miracle we get this KFC – if no one prays for the divine intervention of Mick Gentleman to save a bin or a bus shelter – you’re going to love it.

You’ll be in that drive-thru, not dabbling in the spoils of a victory you made harder than it needed to be, so much as taking home a massive filthy bucket of it.

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Glenda Lloyd8:55 am 06 Oct 22

Author, the Maccas at Erindale has been there since the early 90s (if not earlier), although it was knocked down and rebuilt in 2015. It predates almost all the restaurants there except the China Tea House which was next door before the redevelopment

So you don’t even live there and your telling people who do what they should want? Sounds like you’re the NIMBY ay?

The only reason the owners want a KFC or maccas approved is so they can sell chisholm for a higher value. You would know that if you did any actual research.

The reason residents don’t want a fast food joint is so they can support local businesses. Your argument about a KFC bringing people in is backwards, there’s only so many residents there. They’re only going to steal business from the other places.

Honestly this reads like KFC and Chisholm village propaganda.

If the residents want to “support local business”, then why didn’t they support the actual local businesses that were there previously?

Everyone knows that a fast food restaurant will be successful on the site and will employ local people, bringing in needed economic activity to the area.

Also LOL at you thinking the owner of the centre trying to increase the value of their asset is a bad thing.

Apparently you would prefer they run the centre into the ground?

KFC is pretty ordinary quality. Most of the upmarket NIMBYs would rather a Kingleys. Even Erindale doesn’t stoop to the tiktok advertiser

The bigger issue with allowing a KFC or McDonalds into smaller areas like Chisolm or Erindale, is that once they are in, it keeps away really good restaurants and good restauranteurs from setting up in the area.

This isn’t just a Canberra issue, it’s a first world city phenomenon according to an excellent report I read a few years ago.

I guess you have to ask the question why doesn’t Erindale have any top end restaurants despite having nearby houses in the highest socio demographic quintile, but some other small shopping centres across Canberra have some excellent high quality restaurants but no KFC’s or Macca’s.

Worth noting too that Wanniassa had huge success with the high end Table by Gourmet before the chef got poached (pun intended). I doubt his restaurant would have moved to that little shopping centre if KFC was next door.

Don’t think this really makes any sense BJ.

Erindale does have good restaurants, just not expensive or high class ones.

I’m not sure of what other local centres you think have these types of restaurants that would be scared away by fast food?

Most of the group centres and all of the town centres have mixes of fast food and more gourmet restaurants to differing levels, I don’t think the simple presence of fast food restaurants would affect this too much.

And Table moved because the owner/chef needed to expand to make money and had a good opportunity. They would never have considered the shopping centre regardless of KFC or anything else.

Off the top of my head, I reckon they’re are good restaurants in small suburban shopping centres at Ainslie, Cook, Griffith, Yarralumla, Aranda, Curtin and Narrabundah all without a McDonald’s or KFC. I guess I’ll just have to disagree with you that these restaurants wouldn’t rethink their business startup or ongoing operation if there was a McDonald’s or KFC next door.

The example of Table at Wanniassa was just to show that a quality restaurant can do very well in a Tuggeranong suburb in a location without a major Chain takeaway. I wasn’t making the point that restaurants may move to make more money. There were certainly bigger and empty restaurant spaces at Erindale, Lanyon and Weston if he just needed to expand the restaurant.

You are mostly comparing the local shopping centres vs the larger group centres.

Weston and Dickson group centres have KFCs, McDonald’s and any number of other fast food restaurants as well. Is Dickson devoid of good restaurant choices?

If Chisholm was a tiny local shopping centre I’d agree with you, but it’s bigger than that and can/does accommodate a wider range of food options. I’d think the presence of the Chisholm Vikings club would do more harm to local restaurants than a KFC would.

And yes, Table was set up as a specific type of restaurant. I don’t think it would be anywhere near as successful if it was in any type of normal commercial precinct regardless of any local Fast Food restaurants. It’s success is based around its uniqueness.

I wouldn’t put Chisolm alongside Weston and Dickson. I’d put it in the Curtin size of one of my earlier examples. You also purposely mislead my words around Erindale ‘top end’ restaurants in your previous response.

But if you believe McDonald’s couldn’t possibly have a negative impact on nearby restaurants you should talk to the waitress at the former Pier 1 restaurant in Merimbula or to Rick Stein or Jamie Oliver about where best to setup suburban restaurants.

You should also present your views in peer reviewed journals on fast food, neighbourhoods, deprivation etc.

Please point out where I said they “couldn’t possibly have an effect”?

The vast majority of your last comment has nothing to do with what I said.

Chisholm shops is on a major road thoroughfare, with limited other retail centres in the area. Yes, it isn’t a group centre like Dickson or Weston but it is bigger and better located than most small neighbourhood, local centres to see significant patronage from people who don’t live nearby.

This is the specific reason why some of these drive through fast food restaurants want to set up there.

Using your example of Curtin, it is a smaller shopping centre extremely close to Woden. And its not like it is overflowing with restaurant choices anyway. It has a relatively new gastropub, a hotel and a couple of cafes, despite no major fast food retailers.

Chewy you said, Please point out where I said they “couldn’t possibly have an effect”? You twisted my words, so I twisted yours.

You’re the one who initially said it didn’t ‘make any sense’ regarding my quoting of a report that suggested major fast food sites can impact the setting up of really good restaurants in the area.

I’ll trust the peer reviewed analysis around neighbourhood fast food restaurants, land use, socio economic factors, obesity etc over your opinion that the simple presence of fast food restaurants would not have much of an affect on other nearby restaurants (existing or startup).

I can’t find the exact report I read in the doctors surgery in a quick on-line search, but there’s plenty of related reports in Google Scholar (although most are quoted without actual links to the report, who buys paper journals these days?) I’m back in my research days looking for a paper or microfiche.

You said you read a report a few years ago around a wider phenomenon, which you then are attempting to apply to these local areas.

I didn’t say anything about the report or that impact (because it isn’t named/linked and I probably haven’t read the exact one you’re referencing).

I was specifically talking about this example and how I believe it doesn’t really apply to any real extent for the areas mentioned. I’ve given reasons and counter examples as to why I don’t believe that the impact is great for these examples or it is drowned out by other factors which are larger.

You haven’t actually presented any evidence or research, nor have you explained how you believe it applies in the local context, so no, you can’t rely on “peer reviewed science” because there isn’t any presented.

It has shades of Giralang shops and the locals wanting only a supermarket at their empty shops. No one offered to open one themselves probably because the previous one closed because the locals went to Kaleen and it was unviable. For nearly 20 years it lay in waste.

The people of Chisholm which I always thought was bogan central along with Charnwood need to be told that it will not be compulsory to buy from KFC and they may surprise themselves and actually visit the shop occasionally themselves obviously with a hoody and mask.

Great article and i whole heartedly agree. We need both KFC and Maccas at Chisholm. Lisa’s chinese is just MSG by the bucketful so we are left only with the Fish and Chippy (which is one of Canberra’s best kept secrets). Bring on the best of the US I say – to hell with the toilet block defendants.

Anil Lambert2:31 pm 05 Oct 22

Haha, top piece.

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