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June 13, 2024

Why a Lot Fourteen cafe shut its doors

The owner of a North Terrace cafe and wine bar says rising costs and a lack of foot traffic from a long-promised but unbuilt Aboriginal cultural centre next door are partly to blame for its sudden closure.

  • Words and pictures: Claudia Dichiera

On Monday, Community at Lot Fourteen announced via Instagram that it was closing its doors, effective immediately.

“I couldn’t keep on top of our overheads and the tax department needed their money in a short space of time, which was not manageable,” Community owner Brett Hicks-Maitland says.

Brett says the business, in the former Royal Adelaide Hospital kiosk, had “three weeks from notice to pay or quit” and he “did not want this to occur, but had no alternative option”.

This notice is displayed on the Community doors


Unlike other businesses Brett is a part of — he’s a shareholder of Bar Lune, Dolly, Spread Deli Unley and Don’s Deli — Community was “heavily reliant on the trade of the workers of Lot Fourteen” and he had seen a decline in foot traffic.

“People are working from home more,” Brett says.

“Lot Fourteen has a 40-50 per cent attendance rate on a daily basis. This had a detrimental effect on my business.”

Brett opened the cafe and wine bar because of the location and promised upcoming infrastructure.

“We submitted for this tenancy based on the promise of a 16-storey innovation tower housing 2500 tenants due for completion ‘early 2024’ and most importantly, a world-class Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre [Tarrkarri],” he says.

“Hundreds of tradies on site for years, and thousands of pedestrians daily. We have been attempting to survive with a diminished capacity district and a cost-of-living crisis.”

The state budget contains no new funding for the estimated $400 to $600 million Tarrkarri project, with an existing $200 million allocation remaining in the forward estimates.

Treasurer Stephen Mullighan told InDaily last week that the state government was in negotiations with the Commonwealth for extra funding.

“We’re still passionate about delivering the project, but if it’s not going to happen – if we can’t get Commonwealth funding for it – we want to get on with an alternative use of the site,” Mullighan says.

The design concept for Tarrkarri – Centre for First Nations Cultures, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot. This picture: via InDaily.

Brett says the closure was also related to cost-of-living pressures.

“There’s a ‘post-Covid’ crisis that’s affecting our industry enormously at the moment – the first thing people cut costs on is dining out and entertainment,” he says.

Asked if the state government should step in to support hospitality businesses, Brett says there needs to be “a solution that supports small business owners across all industries”.

“Hospitality is suffering immensely, every week there’s another closure. People like me are working tirelessly to build a piece of something that’s their own,” he says.

“With interest rates up and cost-of-living untenable, people working from home and no support from State Government, there’s no surprise that this is happening.”

Brett is fearful for Adelaide’s hospitality industry after building its “remarkable reputation”.

“Without government backing and local investment in these spaces, we are only going to see more and more venues close their doors,” he says.

Small and Family Business Minister Andrea Michaels says the Malinauskas Government “appreciates how challenging it has been for small and family businesses over the past few years”.

Michaels says the government is focused on “delivering a strong economy and supporting a thriving hospitality sector” which includes reducing small businesses’ energy costs through a “$20 million investment in the Economic Recovery Fund”.

Small businesses can apply for up to $50,000 for more energy-efficient equipment or make improvements that optimise energy usage and costs. This will support up to 8000 small businesses,” she tells CityMag.

Brett says Renewal SA intends to fill the tenancy of the Sheridan Kiosk with another hospitality vendor.

Brett also owns and is still operating Good Neighbour at Lot Fourteen which is tucked around the corner of the Bice building.

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