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End of an era as Lobby closes; assets up for grabs on Allbids

By Rachel Ziv - 27 January 2017 12

The Lobby Restaurant Canberra

The Lobby restaurant in Parkes (in the National Rose Gardens of Old Parliament House) and its sister cafe, Porkbarrel, have closed, and more than $300,000 worth of shop fit-out, including tables, chairs, glassware, crockery and catering equipment are being auctioned unreserved on Allbids.

The iconic main restaurant first opened in 1968, and has since become one of the most well-known fine dining and function locations in Canberra.

A former staff member who contacted us said, “It’s very sad. The restaurant was just two years away from turning 50, and it’s seen many significant events in its time – including playing host to hundreds of weddings over the years.”

The Lobby Restaurant Canberra

The owner was unable to comment on the closure of the restaurant for legal reasons but said, “The business is very confident that all entitlements and accounts will be finalised with the proceeds of the auction.”

The owner was also hopeful that a long-running dispute with the landlord, the National Capital Authority, was close to settlement too.

Any funds received in such a settlement would be used to pay entitlements, the owner said.

“As an ethical business person I just want to ensure that every staff member receives all of their entitlements, and that’s what auctioning off the assets will help us do.”

Rob Evans, CEO of Allbids, says, “It’s the end of a Canberra era. It was the only restaurant of its kind and has been around for longer than new Parliament House. The owners have worked really hard to keep it open, but it seems it’s no longer possible.

“We have everything on sale unreserved until Monday at 7pm. There is over $300,000 worth of shop fit-out, including tables, chairs, almost brand-new glassware, plates, catering equipment and more.”

To see what’s available or to make a bid, head to Allbids.com.au.

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
End of an era as Lobby closes; assets up for grabs on Allbids
1
Chris Mordd Richards 11:57 am
27 Jan 17
#

Wow, end of an era. Interested to know what forced them into having to close. Always seemed popular to me whenever I was nearby, never been able to afford to eat there myself though.

2
dungfungus 12:34 pm
27 Jan 17
#

Chris Mordd Richards said :

Wow, end of an era. Interested to know what forced them into having to close. Always seemed popular to me whenever I was nearby, never been able to afford to eat there myself though.

I think there is a clue on why they closed in the quote: “a long-running dispute with the landlord,”

3
searcher3489 12:46 pm
27 Jan 17
#

This closure is not sudden the owners of the restaurant have known for at least 2 years that the leasing agreement was up for negotiation and that the NCA would most likely need to renovate the building..this is from an article from the Canberra Times from May 2016: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/historic-lobby-restaurant-in-parliamentary-triangle-facing-closure-20160513-gou78g.html

Bruce Gibbs, who purchased the Lobby Restaurant more than a decade ago, said he was frustrated by parking restrictions and two years of bureaucratic arguments with the authority.

Mr Gibbs has been told his lease will not be renewed beyond 2018 with the NCA set to determine the future use of the building and its condition.

When Tim Shaw joined 1206 2CC Canberra as the Breakfast Host he also took this on as a personal crusade and has questioned the NCA and its CEO Malcolm Snow many times about the reasons for the closure and the disagreement with the restaurant.

4
bruce_lord 2:00 pm
27 Jan 17
#

I am concerned that this is another example of canberra development cannibalising itself. There’s no doubt that the Kingston foreshore restaurant strip has hurt both the Manuka and old Kingston restaurants and that Lonsdale st has taken business out of Melbourne and Sydney buildings and from the surrounding areas.

There are also a lot of closed Tuggeranong restaurants in the main centres and throughout the suburbs, but I’m not sure what has caused these closures.

Any tuggers residents know why popular places like Lakeview Chinese and La Pocetta have gone, and we used to like the cheap little Vietnamese at Erindale and then upstairs at the Maram for a drink.

5
rommeldog56 3:12 pm
27 Jan 17
#

bruce_lord said :

I am concerned that this is another example of canberra development cannibalising itself. There’s no doubt that the Kingston foreshore restaurant strip has hurt both the Manuka and old Kingston restaurants and that Lonsdale st has taken business out of Melbourne and Sydney buildings and from the surrounding areas.

There are also a lot of closed Tuggeranong restaurants in the main centres and throughout the suburbs, but I’m not sure what has caused these closures.

Any tuggers residents know why popular places like Lakeview Chinese and La Pocetta have gone, and we used to like the cheap little Vietnamese at Erindale and then upstairs at the Maram for a drink.

Yeah – the London Burger and Beer in Tuggers across from the Hyperdome closed a while back too. Was good for a cheaper feed and always seemed to be well patronised.

6
rommeldog56 3:23 pm
27 Jan 17
#

Chris Mordd Richards said :

Wow, end of an era. Interested to know what forced them into having to close. Always seemed popular to me whenever I was nearby, never been able to afford to eat there myself though.

There was press a while back about some alleged requirement by the landord (NCPA I think ?) to refit the interior and do some other works. Something like that anyway. Lessee said it was uneconomic to do that. Very sad to see it go. What an icon. Maybe it will reopen again – or maybe sold off for unit development.

7
Masquara 3:51 pm
27 Jan 17
#

The Lobby got a good run. The initial offer was for a small sandwich kiosk concession; the original Lobby owners took advantage of the wording of the offer and built a whole restaurant for which they paid the taxpayer just the cost of a small kiosk. They would have been making money hand over fist, especially as they catered for politicians and for a long time completely ignored the Canberra visitor market they were supposed to be catering to …

8
dungfungus 3:56 pm
27 Jan 17
#

Given it’s proximity to the Tent Embassy, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have the occupants there move in to the vacant building?

It would increase the status of whoever runs “the tents” and it would remove a blot on the landscape that we are not allowed to talk about when tourists ask us what it represents.

Who knows, maybe our government could establish Australia’s first indigenous restaurant there.

9
MERC600 4:03 pm
27 Jan 17
#

I like the look of those blue table glasses. Will wander into the auction site.

Be interesting to know the reason for their closing. Another boarded up empty joint. Can join the ones in Civic.

10
Russ 9:25 pm
27 Jan 17
#

My understanding was that the Lobby had not operated as a restaurant for a very long time, rather it was run as a function venue.

Secondly, while the current lessee is selling off all the crockery and fittings, the building remains, and I’ve heard no indication that another tenant couldn’t start up a restaurant there.

11
JC 6:55 am
28 Jan 17
#

bruce_lord said :

I am concerned that this is another example of canberra development cannibalising itself. There’s no doubt that the Kingston foreshore restaurant strip has hurt both the Manuka and old Kingston restaurants and that Lonsdale st has taken business out of Melbourne and Sydney buildings and from the surrounding areas.

There are also a lot of closed Tuggeranong restaurants in the main centres and throughout the suburbs, but I’m not sure what has caused these closures.

Any tuggers residents know why popular places like Lakeview Chinese and La Pocetta have gone, and we used to like the cheap little Vietnamese at Erindale and then upstairs at the Maram for a drink.

In this case your concerns above would be misguided.

The dispute between landlord and leasee has been ongoing for some time. Like always think there is more to it than the NCA not renewing the lease in 2018.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/historic-lobby-restaurant-in-parliamentary-triangle-facing-closure-20160513-gou78g.html

12
John Moulis 12:06 pm
28 Jan 17
#

As someone who went through a similar experience when my uncle retired and sold The Tower Restaurant, I can understand the sense of loss of another iconic Canberra restaurant. If there is one good thing to come out of it, it is that in this case the restaurant has simply closed down and people will remember it as a class act.

In our case The Tower Restaurant was sold to the gentleman who went on to operate Autolyse in Braddon which closed in controversial circumstances last week. When he owned The Tower Restaurant after us, he changed the name to Alto and further tried to “de-Moulis” it by changing the phone number. He started a row with the landlord – Telstra – which was played out on the front page of The Canberra Times.

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