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March 21, 2024

The Peter Rabbit team are reviving the Rymill Park Kiosk

Operators of a popular West End venue have big ideas for their planned hop to the East End to breathe new life into a closed park lands landmark. CityMag had a chat about the future – and tried to get a hint about its name.

  • Words and pictures: Helen Karakulak

After returning from a holiday in New York, Peter Rabbit owner James McIntyre had Central Park-coloured glasses on as he strolled through Adelaide’s Rymill Park/Murlawirrapurka.


Rymill Park Kiosk
Coming 2025

Peter Rabbit
234-244 Hindley St, Adelaide SA 5000
7:30am ’til 3pm Mon – Fri
8am ’til 3pm Sat & Sun


On his holiday, he spent a day by the boathouse enjoying a coffee in the park and admiring the iconic row boats of the Big Apple. After he returned home, he was strolling through a CBD spot where that lakeside feel could be recreated.  

“I walked past ours which had been shut for four years by that point and I just thought, ‘why is that not something of that kind of calibre?’” James says. 

So he started pursuing it. 

The kiosk was originally owned by Adelaide businessman Arnie Rossis who ran it from 1998 until 2013 when his daughter Ester and her husband took over. The Rossis’ closed the kiosk in 2018. Pop-up breakfast and lunch spots have used the space since, including Loch and Quay which moved in for the summer of 2018-19

James first expressed his interest in the lease in 2017. 

“It’s been obviously a big long road since then, been through three mayors, three different elected councils, the lake upgrade has been slowing things down just trying to wait until that’s finished ‘til we can get in… Covid obviously slowed it,” he says. 

“It’s been a slow burn but as they say, good things take time.” 

The proposed design of the new kiosk, from the proposal submitted to the Adelaide City Council. This picture: LANDSKAP

James says from the beginning a big question from the council was how they would liven the park lands beyond the borders of the kiosk and build something that would benefit the community.  

“I did discover how attached and kind of nostalgic it was for people because it had a special part of a lot of people’s childhood and upbringing, so I guess that kind of drove me to really understand the passion people have for the project.”

While there is a beautiful environment in the park lands, James says it can be challenging because it’s secluded and open to the weather, without the natural food-seeking foot traffic you’d find on a city street like Hindley.  

“We’ve tried to design a model that we hope will work really well there; that being daytime cafe, but also events at night to kind of substitute and bring some activity back to it, from the row boats and hiring and all the way through to parties and events.” 

Peter Rabbit opened on Hindley Street in 2015 and became known for its greenery and hidden-gem feel. 

As for what it will look like? 

“It will have hints of a mid-century feel about it, that was the biggest change for that park. It was the late 1950s and early 1960s when they actually did the lake, dug it out… it used to have beautiful, crazy paving all around it and those kinds of things. 

“We’ll bring back elements of that kind of era, but it will definitely have an overtone garden-esque Peter Rabbit vibe which is obviously our brand but is also just as well suited to the park. 

“We want to just really settle in and not be like a dominating building, but just a lot of vertical greening, a lot of vines hanging down and those kinds of things.” 

But, it won’t be Peter Rabbit 2.0 –  the kiosk will have its own name and branding. James is keeping the name to himself for now until it’s been run by his team and locked in for good, but he did tell us this:  

“It’ll be fun and playful, similar to Peter Rabbit. The name will be different, it might have a nod to Peter Rabbit, but generally will be a standalone standalone name or standalone business. 

“We do want to definitely lean into how open and accessible Peter Rabbit is and just the general kind of ethos, quality food and all those kinds of things.”

CityMag guesses that Jemima Puddle-Duck would feel right at home in Rymill Park. 

Peter Rabbit has a distinct character, CityMag thinks the new kiosk will too. 

The kiosk will serve 1645 coffee – the same brew you’ll find at Peter Rabbit – and quality takeaway food items for you to enjoy there or picnic-style on the nearby grass. They’ll also have a hire shop to hire rowboats, picnic rugs and games. 

“We’ve had a lot of time to think about it over six years to get what we think will be a good business model for that area,” James says. 

He says the kiosk will be a casual and no-pressure environment, with public toilets out the back that you don’t need to be a customer to use and the aim of live music on weekends. 

“All those kinds of things would just help people push out a little bit and if you do stumble past, either walking to work or on a ride with the kids on a Sunday, it makes you want to stop because it’s just that energy around it,”  James says.

The goal is to create an environment where people can come and enjoy the space even if they’re not spending heaps, and create a community atmosphere. 

“The more people that are hanging around, the better,” James says. 

“If they hire a $5 Bocce set or something and they’re playing right next to it and that’s all they do for four hours, that’s still going to make someone who’s riding past stop and think like, ‘oh, this is something happening’ that means that person might buy a coffee when they weren’t going to.

“It was a big factor in the model as well, just trying to show the council that you can have commercial operations in the park lands that people accept and are proud of.” 

Adelaide City Council ran a community consultation on the lease agreement between November and December 2023. Of the 20 respondents, 95 per cent supported the plans, with only one respondent saying they were neutral, as they’d prefer cafes in the park lands to be temporary. 

What the new lakeside kiosk could look like. This picture: LANDSKAP

Now that it’s been endorsed by the council, the draft lease agreement will be submitted to both houses of state parliament for approval – this has to be done as per the Adelaide Park Lands Act (SA) 2005. 

James says it will depend on how long it takes to pass parliament, but ideally, they’d love to start foundation works when the weather dries up, aiming to be on site by September/October 2024. 

As per the latest Adelaide City Council capital works update, the lake should be practically completed by April. The lake base is completed, and they’ve started preparing turf to be placed around the perimeter. The last steps of the project include electrical and lighting works.

James says they’d love to open as early as Fringe 2025, to integrate with Gluttony, the foodie Fringe hub that takes over the park for month starting in February.  

He says once the founder and co-owner of Gluttony, Daniel Michael, caught wind of who was leasing the kiosk, he reached out. 

“[Daniel] is a lovely man so we’re just working through it together and I think the best case scenario is we just integrate as easily as possible… hopefully we’ll have a bit of fun coming up with some cool concepts that we can do in the lake.”

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