Holy Grail Civic bites the dust?

CanberraInsider 9 February 2011 21

Back in 2008 the owner of the Holy Grail made comments regarding the unsuitability of autistic people for work. Drooling was his concern. Readers comments called for a boycott to punish them in the hip pocket. It’s 2011 and the Civic store has bitten the dust. People power from The RiotACT perhaps?

Probably not in all truth. It turns out that despite being one of Canberra’s best known retreats for the political folk, neither location has been doing too well. In fact, here’s an interesting tidbit about Telluride (the company name of the Civic location) and Squaw Valley (the Kingston location) from proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court:

Telluride submitted that it was operating at a significant loss and was being subsidised by Squaw Valley which, itself, did not enjoy a large profit. It was submitted that the companies had limited capacities to pay and a large penalty might lead to liquidation of the companies. It was submitted that any penalty which would be imposed should not put Telluride out of business.

Source: VONARX v SQUAW VALLEY PTY LTD [2008] FMCA 212. [47].

Does anyone know what is to become of the former Civic location, it looked to be having a major refit over Christmas? And is the limited profitability of the Holy Grail indicative of the local hospitality industry as a whole, are things really that tough?


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21 Responses to Holy Grail Civic bites the dust?
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creative_canberran creative_canberran 7:20 pm 09 Feb 11

Hells_Bells74 said :

I don’t think location is enough of an excuse, if it is good and remains good, the people will come (think of Brodburgers I suppose).

That’s quite right, particularly as the original article said, these places are well known. They shouldn’t need to rely on passing traffic.
Reviews don’t seem great though: http://www.eatability.com.au/au/canberra/holy-grail-restaurant-bar-kingston/
On a side note, while both are owned by Ian Meldrum, I believe the Civic business was his wife’s to run day to day. Ironically, I always considered the classier one.
The Kingston one reminded me a bit of the dingy bar shown in Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” video clip.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 6:22 pm 09 Feb 11

Keijidosha said :

At a cursory glance the biggest problem with Holy Grail in the city is its location. You can’t make a venue that big viable without foot traffic, and in that respect it is in no-mans land. I’ve often wondered how it turned a profit, and now I know that it didn’t!

Whilst it is far out, in it’s early days, when I used to go a fair bit it wasn’t unusual to be walking with dozens of people at a time, there and back.. that itself was kind of a fun part of the evening. Making friends along the way. Sitting out front there was always a constant stream coming and going. I don’t think location is enough of an excuse, if it is good and remains good, the people will come (think of Brodburgers I suppose).

deye deye 5:02 pm 09 Feb 11

Les Lozenger said :

Additionally, aren’t there new apartments being built close by near Glebe Park? Sadly I’m supposing that if nothing else, that would have been the death of it anyway.

Diagonally across the intersection, the building there is in the process of demolition.

Keijidosha Keijidosha 4:07 pm 09 Feb 11

Kerryhemsley said :

Rivers, KFC, Mcdonalds?

Geez I can hardly wait for one of those outlets to take over.

In case you weren’t aware, KFC and Maccas used to occupy the areas now occupied by Holy Grail and adjacent stores.

creative_canberran creative_canberran 3:50 pm 09 Feb 11

AG Canberra said :

the owner of these establishments is an OK bloke

IMO, not so much.

Kerryhemsley Kerryhemsley 3:38 pm 09 Feb 11

Rivers, KFC, Mcdonalds?

Geez I can hardly wait for one of those outlets to take over.

johnboy johnboy 3:23 pm 09 Feb 11

Agreed the acoustics killed it.

Keijidosha Keijidosha 3:10 pm 09 Feb 11

That little pocket of the city causes a pretty large dead space. Glebe Park is like retail kryptonite. Town planning at its worst.

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 3:03 pm 09 Feb 11

Bring back Maccas and KFC.

Les Lozenger Les Lozenger 2:56 pm 09 Feb 11

I think it would have been just what the city needed in terms of an inner city live venue with a slightly bigger audience capacity than that of the other venues currently in town.

I agree about it being out of the way from foot traffic but I’d also heard quite a few times that most bigger bands who’d attract audiences of the 200-300 capacity unfortunately didn’t want to play there because of its awful acoustics. I’ve seen touring bands on big and small nights there and have played the room a few times too. It was an echo chamber when audience numbers weren’t great, and it was still quite bad even when reasonably full of people.

It’s such a pity because it was such a cool looking room for a venue too. I’m no room acoustics specialist but i’m guessing the layout probably had something to do with it. That and possibly the lack of fabric in the room.

Ian was a good bloke to deal with too based on my phone discussions with him.

Additionally, aren’t there new apartments being built close by near Glebe Park? Sadly I’m supposing that if nothing else, that would have been the death of it anyway.

dtc dtc 2:37 pm 09 Feb 11

maybe the ANU can convert it into uni housing, they have done that for most of the rest of the inner north

dj_andy_g dj_andy_g 2:25 pm 09 Feb 11

Awww, that’s quite sad. I thought it was a nice spot over the road from the park, and whilst their food took ages, it was pretty good.

They never utilised the space there properly. With such a dearth of decent concert venues in Canberra (with many outright refusing to put up with the pinheads at ANU), there was an opportunity there that they never took.

deye deye 1:45 pm 09 Feb 11

The hospitality industry always has a fairly high turnover of venues as the current in thing changes.

Erg0 Erg0 1:42 pm 09 Feb 11

I heard there’s going to be an Ikea opening there.

D2 D2 1:24 pm 09 Feb 11

bailes23 said :

I heard it’s going to become a Rivers outlet store

+1

That’d be great.

AG Canberra AG Canberra 1:08 pm 09 Feb 11

Go easy – the owner of these establishments is an OK bloke whose mother died recently….

T1G3R T1G3R 10:54 am 09 Feb 11

Holy Grail has always been a bucket of crap.

bailes23 bailes23 10:20 am 09 Feb 11

I heard it’s going to become a Rivers outlet store

Waiting For Godot Waiting For Godot 9:58 am 09 Feb 11

Perhaps McDonalds might move back in.

teddyhb teddyhb 9:32 am 09 Feb 11

Have heard that Canberra Centre decided not to renew there lease

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