Search begins for another new gallery cafe tenant
THE latest tenant of the Grafton Regional Gallery Cafe announced his resignation at the weekend.
A little more than six months into his contract, Tyndale bakery owner David Lorenzo and wife Rhonda announced that last Saturday night would be their final one in the restaurant.
Mr Lorenzo took to social media to announce the impending closure.
"It's with regret, but we are closing the cafe down with effect this Saturday (June) 30 because lack of customers and other gallery functions continually bringing their own food.
"We thank all our loyal customers who have supported Rhonda, staff and I on our eye-opening adventure.
"We gave the council one month notice. Last service, meal, will be on Saturday to enable us to hand over on Tuesday."
Cafe owner, the Clarence Valley Council, confirmed Mr Lorenzo had resigned from the cafe and the search was on for a new tenant.
The council's environment, planning and community director, Des Schroder, said council was confident of finding a suitable tenant for the café.
He said news of the $7.6million gallery extension had generated considerable interest from prospective café operators and he looked forward to being able to announce a new tenant soon.
Mr Schroder said negotiations for a new tenant were being handled by real estate agents Ford and Dougherty.
The agent's property manager, Natasha Watkinson, said negotiations were in progress with some prospective tenants, but it was too early to say when a contract might in fact be signed.
"I don't think the cafe is going to be empty for long," Ms Watkinson said.
Mr Lorenzo said since the gallery's $7.6million funding deal was announced, numbers had fallen off.
"I feel people are boycotting the gallery," he said. "It's something I hear when I talk to people at the pub and around town. And I think that they think they've got their $7.6million, they don't need the gallery cafe any more."
Mr Lorenzo said the gallery staff did not support him at special functions.
"Whenever they had something on, out would come the tea urns and the cakes and biscuits," he said.
"Even during the day, staff would head downtown to get a coffee and something to eat. I just got sick of it; why did I need to buy a $3000 coffee machine for that?"
Mr Lorenzo said he had spent about $17,000 outfitting the cafe with equipment, which he had taken from the building prior to handing it over.