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Is Manuka dying?

By Alexandra Craig 31 March 2015 58

manuka

The shops at Manuka in Canberra’s inner south have always been a hive of activity. The first work started there in the late 1930s and by the 1960s the shops were flourishing with florists, shoe stores, two supermarkets, clothing stores, a delicatessen as well as two butcher stores, hairdressers, barbers, and even a fishmonger. Nowadays there’s only one supermarket and no butcher or fishmonger, but there are designer clothes stores, several banks, a pharmacy, a newsagency, jewellery stores, and homewares stores. The overwhelming majority of businesses are cafes, restaurants and bars.

While this paints the image of a thriving town centre, it appears to be quite the opposite, with at least four stores closing in the last month – Deli Alimenté (near Coles), Sushi Smith (near The Lawns), Angelo’s Shoes and Andez Gemstones – both were next door to each other, a few stores up from Public Bar (there are, however, reports that these will be renovated and turned into a large chocolate boutique). I’ve also noticed that a store in one of the arcades (I think it was also a shoe store) has closed down recently.

Millers of Manuka closed down in the last year, and the Manuka Pharmacy merged with Priceline Pharmacy moving to the older Millers of Manuka store. The old pharmacy space is still empty. Clothing store Gabby that used to be near The Lawns has also closed down and ONA have opened a bigger cafe there. I have noticed that the RM Williams store on Flinders Way is gone too.

Given that Manuka isn’t a large area, this is a pretty big chunk of businesses to shut down all around the same time. Could Manuka be dying? I’ve certainly found it much easier to get a parking spot there recently, whereas a year or two ago I would have driven around for 10 minutes looking for one. On some occasions even the whole Coles underground carpark was at capacity but now it’s never more than half full.

Deli Alimenté’s Facebook page says it closed down due to trade declining so much in the first three months of 2015 and they couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. As for Sushi Smith, when they opened up (which wasn’t that long ago), I remember thinking that they wouldn’t last long because there were already two sushi shops in Manuka – one of which is hugely popular with a strong regular customer base.

I think the decline of Manuka can probably be attributed to a number of factors including places like the Kingston Foreshore and Braddon taking off, as well as paid parking in the Parliamentary Triangle. Public servants aren’t driving into Manuka for lunch anymore because they’re worried about losing their car spot. There were calls for ACTION buses to provide lunchtime services from the Triangle to Manuka but as far as I’m aware this didn’t get off the ground.

The success of the Kingston Foreshore and the reinvention of Braddon are obviously incredibly positive and they’re injecting new life into different parts of our city, however, what if this is at the detriment to other areas in Canberra? One person I spoke to suggested that the popularity of these new areas is a good thing as it will lower rent costs in areas like Manuka allowing new business to open. However, if Manuka continues to decline, any new businesses surely won’t be able to survive even with lower rent?

I still visit Manuka semi-regularly, I work nearby and often pop down there for lunch. I tend to do most of my grocery shopping there too even though I live on the other side of the bridge. Driving a few extra minutes to Manuka is much more preferable than dealing with the usual chaos at Dickson Woolworths.

Has anyone else noticed the decline at the Manuka shops? Or do you frequent Manuka less, choosing to go to the Foreshore instead?

What’s Your opinion?


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Is Manuka dying?
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rommeldog56 4:59 pm 06 Apr 15

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

Alexandra Craig said :

2620watcher said :

Onceler said :

I was sad to see Kismet, the Turkish place, has gone. Replaced by some sort of cafe, but I really wanted a kebab roll. Everything Kismet did was yummy, and the staff were really friendly. 🙁

The best kebabs in Manuka are up near St George Bank and the post office. Place is called something like Kabul Kebab. Their kebabs are absolutely amazing.

Regarding Manuka, what really turns me off is the undesirables that hang out there all day and night. I assume they live in the flats across behind Coles. Obviously this isn’t the politically correct answer, but if I’m spending big coin on shopping or eating there I don’t really want the hobos fighting or lassoing traffic signs as I walk past.

I know the feeling but I suppose it comes down to the issue of unless they’re actually doing something illegal they’re within their rights to be there too. Though, my partner was approached by someone recently asking for coins for a bus fare. Partner said he didn’t have any on him (he genuinely didn’t), and then the guy said “okay well you’ll drive me to Queanbeyan then”. Partner obviously refused, but it scared me a bit – he might have been less threatening towards him because he is a male, but if it was me by myself or an elderly person, they might have been easier to control. But, like I said, nothing illegal about asking for a lift (as far as I know!)

Yeah – I know what u mean. Very topical because today at Erindale shops, myself and another guy actually had to intervene between a “beggar” and a lady shopper – he wasn’t going to let her pass without a “donation” apparently. He kept on blocking her way every time she tried to go around him. Most unpleasent experience for her I’m afraid. There seems to be a bit of this sort of thing going on in many places in Canberra nowdays.

Re the pan-handlers at Erindale, were you referring to the perpetually homeless guy or the one that is always after the bus fare to Calwell?

The one usually at the rear entrance who has the homeless sign.

rommeldog56 2:11 pm 06 Apr 15

Postal said :

rommeldog56 said :

There seems to be a bit of this sort of thing going on in many places in Canberra nowdays.

That’s because there are actual poor people in Canberra, as hard as it is to believe. I find the sheltered and protected outlook of some Canberrans a bit hard to take, to be honest. So what if someone asks you for money? You can either give them some or say no.

Agreed. But in this instance, it wasn’t just asking for money. He was preventing a woman from passing while pestering her for money. Thats a whole different situation and a bit Intimidatory.

breda 1:19 pm 06 Apr 15

Manuka is a testament to one of the worst “planning” disasters in a town famous for them – that horrible area which houses Coles and all the rest. It seems to be designed to make life difficult and unappealing for shoppers – winding, sloped walkways, empty, windswept paved spaces everywhere, and you have to go around the world to get where you are trying to go.

Countless small businesses have foundered there. If it weren’t for Coles, Maccas and the Post Office, it would be deserted.

Urban “planners” and their acolytes have a lot to answer for.

carriew 6:30 am 06 Apr 15

personally I believe Canberra businesses would benefit if Customer Service was considered a priority. When I first came to Canberra some 26 years ago I was horrified at the standard of customer service. It has improved to some extent but there is still room for improvement.

I am mainly referring to cafe and restaurant service. Recently at a Xmas get together with people from my workplace we were at a popular Civic cafe, which I may add does do a reasonable trade. Between each course we had to wait for ages for the wait staff to take the empty plates and take our next orders, in fact a couple of times I got up and went into the counter to disturb the waiting staff from their conversation to prompt them to come and get our next orders!

My conclusion was that this cafe must be making too much money if the staff weren’t alert to the clientele. In my experience prompt attentive service breeds goodwill and more money.

Just a week or two ago I was an Indian restaurant in Civic and the service was tops, the young European waitress was cheery, attentive and lovely. Top marks, someone is getting it right.

Postal 12:21 am 06 Apr 15

rommeldog56 said :

There seems to be a bit of this sort of thing going on in many places in Canberra nowdays.

That’s because there are actual poor people in Canberra, as hard as it is to believe. I find the sheltered and protected outlook of some Canberrans a bit hard to take, to be honest. So what if someone asks you for money? You can either give them some or say no.

dungfungus 9:03 pm 05 Apr 15

rommeldog56 said :

Alexandra Craig said :

2620watcher said :

Onceler said :

I was sad to see Kismet, the Turkish place, has gone. Replaced by some sort of cafe, but I really wanted a kebab roll. Everything Kismet did was yummy, and the staff were really friendly. 🙁

The best kebabs in Manuka are up near St George Bank and the post office. Place is called something like Kabul Kebab. Their kebabs are absolutely amazing.

Regarding Manuka, what really turns me off is the undesirables that hang out there all day and night. I assume they live in the flats across behind Coles. Obviously this isn’t the politically correct answer, but if I’m spending big coin on shopping or eating there I don’t really want the hobos fighting or lassoing traffic signs as I walk past.

I know the feeling but I suppose it comes down to the issue of unless they’re actually doing something illegal they’re within their rights to be there too. Though, my partner was approached by someone recently asking for coins for a bus fare. Partner said he didn’t have any on him (he genuinely didn’t), and then the guy said “okay well you’ll drive me to Queanbeyan then”. Partner obviously refused, but it scared me a bit – he might have been less threatening towards him because he is a male, but if it was me by myself or an elderly person, they might have been easier to control. But, like I said, nothing illegal about asking for a lift (as far as I know!)

Yeah – I know what u mean. Very topical because today at Erindale shops, myself and another guy actually had to intervene between a “beggar” and a lady shopper – he wasn’t going to let her pass without a “donation” apparently. He kept on blocking her way every time she tried to go around him. Most unpleasent experience for her I’m afraid. There seems to be a bit of this sort of thing going on in many places in Canberra nowdays.

Re the pan-handlers at Erindale, were you referring to the perpetually homeless guy or the one that is always after the bus fare to Calwell?

rubaiyat 7:59 pm 05 Apr 15

JC said :

rubaiyat said :

Do you remember when the Coles/Woolies duopoly reopened in the Woden Plaza extension with deeply slashed prices, after getting Centre Management to evict their only competition, Franklins?

People have short memories and will take the massive discounts the big chains use to kill the competition before cranking their prices back to higher than they ever were before. There is a reason they keep prices bobbing up and down perpetually. Most consumers don’t notice the progressive ratcheting upward trend if it doesn’t happen all in one go.

Only ALDI which is huge, privately owned and is an extremely tightly run ship, has the deep pockets to take the big two on at their own game.

Good attempt at re-writting history. What killed Franlins was it’s Hong Kong owner (Jardines) wanting to leave the market. They couldn’t find a buyer for the whole lot so sold it off store by store and shut those stores where the couldn’t sell them. Woden and Belconnen were two such stores as both already had a Cole and Woolworths and shopping malls is not normally the domain of IGA.

Not true. You really don’t seem to pay much attention.

The expansion of Woden Plaza was in the nineties. Franklins was sold off years later in 2001, after an unsuccessful massive expansion of its other stores, when Dairy Farm International left Australia in May and that was when all the stores were divided up to whoever would take them.

By that point the Woden store hadn’t existed for years.

rommeldog56 7:00 pm 05 Apr 15

Alexandra Craig said :

2620watcher said :

Onceler said :

I was sad to see Kismet, the Turkish place, has gone. Replaced by some sort of cafe, but I really wanted a kebab roll. Everything Kismet did was yummy, and the staff were really friendly. 🙁

The best kebabs in Manuka are up near St George Bank and the post office. Place is called something like Kabul Kebab. Their kebabs are absolutely amazing.

Regarding Manuka, what really turns me off is the undesirables that hang out there all day and night. I assume they live in the flats across behind Coles. Obviously this isn’t the politically correct answer, but if I’m spending big coin on shopping or eating there I don’t really want the hobos fighting or lassoing traffic signs as I walk past.

I know the feeling but I suppose it comes down to the issue of unless they’re actually doing something illegal they’re within their rights to be there too. Though, my partner was approached by someone recently asking for coins for a bus fare. Partner said he didn’t have any on him (he genuinely didn’t), and then the guy said “okay well you’ll drive me to Queanbeyan then”. Partner obviously refused, but it scared me a bit – he might have been less threatening towards him because he is a male, but if it was me by myself or an elderly person, they might have been easier to control. But, like I said, nothing illegal about asking for a lift (as far as I know!)

Yeah – I know what u mean. Very topical because today at Erindale shops, myself and another guy actually had to intervene between a “beggar” and a lady shopper – he wasn’t going to let her pass without a “donation” apparently. He kept on blocking her way every time she tried to go around him. Most unpleasent experience for her I’m afraid. There seems to be a bit of this sort of thing going on in many places in Canberra nowdays.

Alexandra Craig 4:22 pm 05 Apr 15

2620watcher said :

Onceler said :

I was sad to see Kismet, the Turkish place, has gone. Replaced by some sort of cafe, but I really wanted a kebab roll. Everything Kismet did was yummy, and the staff were really friendly. 🙁

The best kebabs in Manuka are up near St George Bank and the post office. Place is called something like Kabul Kebab. Their kebabs are absolutely amazing.

Regarding Manuka, what really turns me off is the undesirables that hang out there all day and night. I assume they live in the flats across behind Coles. Obviously this isn’t the politically correct answer, but if I’m spending big coin on shopping or eating there I don’t really want the hobos fighting or lassoing traffic signs as I walk past.

I know the feeling but I suppose it comes down to the issue of unless they’re actually doing something illegal they’re within their rights to be there too. Though, my partner was approached by someone recently asking for coins for a bus fare. Partner said he didn’t have any on him (he genuinely didn’t), and then the guy said “okay well you’ll drive me to Queanbeyan then”. Partner obviously refused, but it scared me a bit – he might have been less threatening towards him because he is a male, but if it was me by myself or an elderly person, they might have been easier to control. But, like I said, nothing illegal about asking for a lift (as far as I know!)

JC 11:57 am 05 Apr 15

rubaiyat said :

Do you remember when the Coles/Woolies duopoly reopened in the Woden Plaza extension with deeply slashed prices, after getting Centre Management to evict their only competition, Franklins?

People have short memories and will take the massive discounts the big chains use to kill the competition before cranking their prices back to higher than they ever were before. There is a reason they keep prices bobbing up and down perpetually. Most consumers don’t notice the progressive ratcheting upward trend if it doesn’t happen all in one go.

Only ALDI which is huge, privately owned and is an extremely tightly run ship, has the deep pockets to take the big two on at their own game.

Good attempt at re-writting history. What killed Franlins was it’s Hong Kong owner (Jardines) wanting to leave the market. They couldn’t find a buyer for the whole lot so sold it off store by store and shut those stores where the couldn’t sell them. Woden and Belconnen were two such stores as both already had a Cole and Woolworths and shopping malls is not normally the domain of IGA.

dungfungus 9:44 am 05 Apr 15

rubaiyat said :

JC said :

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

How are we ever going to transform Canberra into Hipster Paradise if we allow big evil companies in??

On the left we have the “Hipster Paradise” with people friendly cities, a living wage, good food and lifestyle.

On the right we have the tax dodging foreign corporations with huge generic warehouses, employing submissive workers on minimum wages, selling throw away junk, surrounded by vast car parks and sucking the money out of our economy.

Above we have the deep thinking excuses for the later.

Your choice. 😉

Well actually the choice lies with the consumer. If they decide to frequent the tax dodging multinational over the local guy then it is THEIR choice.

Same with supermarkets too. Woolworths/Coles only takes business away from other because the customers vote with their feet and wallets. Nothing forcing the customer to go to the big guys. But they do, which clearly indicates they have made THEIR choice.

Do you remember when the Coles/Woolies duopoly reopened in the Woden Plaza extension with deeply slashed prices, after getting Centre Management to evict their only competition, Franklins?

People have short memories and will take the massive discounts the big chains use to kill the competition before cranking their prices back to higher than they ever were before. There is a reason they keep prices bobbing up and down perpetually. Most consumers don’t notice the progressive ratcheting upward trend if it doesn’t happen all in one go.

Only ALDI which is huge, privately owned and is an extremely tightly run ship, has the deep pockets to take the big two on at their own game.

“Only ALDI which is huge, privately owned and is an extremely tightly run ship….”
and doesn’t pay income tax in Australia……..

rubaiyat 12:32 am 05 Apr 15

JC said :

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

How are we ever going to transform Canberra into Hipster Paradise if we allow big evil companies in??

On the left we have the “Hipster Paradise” with people friendly cities, a living wage, good food and lifestyle.

On the right we have the tax dodging foreign corporations with huge generic warehouses, employing submissive workers on minimum wages, selling throw away junk, surrounded by vast car parks and sucking the money out of our economy.

Above we have the deep thinking excuses for the later.

Your choice. 😉

Well actually the choice lies with the consumer. If they decide to frequent the tax dodging multinational over the local guy then it is THEIR choice.

Same with supermarkets too. Woolworths/Coles only takes business away from other because the customers vote with their feet and wallets. Nothing forcing the customer to go to the big guys. But they do, which clearly indicates they have made THEIR choice.

Do you remember when the Coles/Woolies duopoly reopened in the Woden Plaza extension with deeply slashed prices, after getting Centre Management to evict their only competition, Franklins?

People have short memories and will take the massive discounts the big chains use to kill the competition before cranking their prices back to higher than they ever were before. There is a reason they keep prices bobbing up and down perpetually. Most consumers don’t notice the progressive ratcheting upward trend if it doesn’t happen all in one go.

Only ALDI which is huge, privately owned and is an extremely tightly run ship, has the deep pockets to take the big two on at their own game.

rubaiyat 12:22 am 05 Apr 15

Onceler said :

I was sad to see Kismet, the Turkish place, has gone. Replaced by some sort of cafe, but I really wanted a kebab roll. Everything Kismet did was yummy, and the staff were really friendly. 🙁

I spoke to the owner only a few weeks ago. He said it was a refit and the intention was to come back with a different style than the take away counter.

I said fine, so long as the zucchini balls were still on the menu! 😉

2620watcher 9:22 pm 04 Apr 15

Onceler said :

I was sad to see Kismet, the Turkish place, has gone. Replaced by some sort of cafe, but I really wanted a kebab roll. Everything Kismet did was yummy, and the staff were really friendly. 🙁

The best kebabs in Manuka are up near St George Bank and the post office. Place is called something like Kabul Kebab. Their kebabs are absolutely amazing.

Regarding Manuka, what really turns me off is the undesirables that hang out there all day and night. I assume they live in the flats across behind Coles. Obviously this isn’t the politically correct answer, but if I’m spending big coin on shopping or eating there I don’t really want the hobos fighting or lassoing traffic signs as I walk past.

Onceler 4:47 pm 04 Apr 15

I was sad to see Kismet, the Turkish place, has gone. Replaced by some sort of cafe, but I really wanted a kebab roll. Everything Kismet did was yummy, and the staff were really friendly. 🙁

Dondon 8:40 pm 02 Apr 15

Mary Jane Liddicoat said :

Sad to say that the bar Pheast (formerly Charlie Black’s) seems to have closed its doors too this week.

Ahh dammit. I walked past there this evening walking back from the shops and noticed it was closed and the outside chairs and tables where missing. I just assumed they were closed for the night or something.

This saddens me, Pheast was out family sat breakfast location and the occasional lunch. I enjoyed the Sunday arvos with the music too. My 2 year old won’t be happy, we would go and listen to the tunes and he would play with his cars in the courtyard. It was also his favourite hot chocolate establishment, especially since it was roughly 200m from our place. We were only there last week.

JC 8:33 pm 02 Apr 15

rubaiyat said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

How are we ever going to transform Canberra into Hipster Paradise if we allow big evil companies in??

On the left we have the “Hipster Paradise” with people friendly cities, a living wage, good food and lifestyle.

On the right we have the tax dodging foreign corporations with huge generic warehouses, employing submissive workers on minimum wages, selling throw away junk, surrounded by vast car parks and sucking the money out of our economy.

Above we have the deep thinking excuses for the later.

Your choice. 😉

Well actually the choice lies with the consumer. If they decide to frequent the tax dodging multinational over the local guy then it is THEIR choice.

Same with supermarkets too. Woolworths/Coles only takes business away from other because the customers vote with their feet and wallets. Nothing forcing the customer to go to the big guys. But they do, which clearly indicates they have made THEIR choice.

rubaiyat 5:41 pm 02 Apr 15

rubaiyat said :

Mary Jane Liddicoat said :

Sad to say that the bar Pheast (formerly Charlie Black’s) seems to have closed its doors too this week. I own and run a tiny business there. It’s a tough gig. We know that business is business and it’s up to us to make it work. And if the public is no longer interested in places like Manuka then businesses will continue to fold. So if you DO like Manuka – the leafy greenness, the human scale intimacy, the local feel, the quality offerings, then please use it. As one of my guests acknowledged recently: use it or lose it.

Pheast has relocated to the Narrabundah Golf Club.

Same people same chefs.

Speaking of which wasn’t the Capital Golf Club supposed to be being wound up according the Canberra Times, late last year?

What’s happening there?

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