Adelaide City Council considers reintroducing outdoor dining fees

In Attractions, Business Resources, Featured Home Page News, Food, South Australia
Outdoor dining

Restaurant owners struggling to recover from the pandemic and escalating costs are outraged by a prposed bid by Adelaide City Council to reintroduce outdoor dining fees.

The fees for space on footpath were scrapped in 2019 to encourage more outdoor dining in the city and North Adelaide.

Their removal was extended during the pandemic as part of a multimillion-dollar strategy by the council to support the hospitality industry and revitalise the CBD.

What it’ll costs business owners:

Outdoor dining fees:   $34 to $39 per sqm
Permit transfer:  $104
PVC blinds:  $43.50m
Screens:  $43.50m
Fixed furniture levy:  $5 sqm

Restaurant owner Jim Dimitropoulos said “What are they trying to do to the hospitality industry?,”

“We are still getting hit left, right and centre.

“Gas is costing more, all our basic food supplies have tripled in price, our wages are going up and now they want to do this.

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City restaurant owners struggling to recover from the pandemic and escalating costs are outraged at a bid to reintroduce outdoor dining fees.

Adelaide City Council staff has included the charges on a new list of annual fees submitted for approval at a council meeting on Tuesday night.

If imposed, the fees would range from several hundred dollars to thousands for hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars across the CBD depending on their outdoor space.

The move has been condemned by elected members, who have vowed to vote to have them removed. It also has been criticised by hospitality operators, who have questioned how the fees could be reintroduced when they were trying to rebuild their businesses after two years of Covid-19 restrictions.

Customers sit at outdoor tables on Rundle Street.

The fees for space on footpath occupied by tables, chairs, plastic blinds and screening were scrapped in 2019 to encourage more outdoor dining in the city and North Adelaide.

Their removal was extended during the pandemic as part of a multimillion-dollar strategy by the council to support the hospitality industry and revitalise the CBD.

FOOTING THE BILL

What it costs to eat out:

Outdoor dining fees:   $34 to $39 per sqm
Permit transfer:  $104
PVC blinds:  $43.50m
Screens:  $43.50m
Fixed furniture levy:  $5 sqm

 

Longstanding East End restaurant owner Jim Dimitropoulos said it was “ludicrous” for senior council financial managers to now seek their reinstatement.

“What are they trying to do to the hospitality industry?,” he said

“We are still getting hit left, right and centre.

“After all the Covid closures, everything is going up,” he said.

“Gas is costing more, all our basic food supplies have tripled in price, our wages are going up and now they want to do this.

“It just doesn’t make any sense. Everyone in hospitality is just fed up with it.”

Eros Kafe owner Jim Dimitropoulos on Rundle Street. Picture: Tom Huntley

Eros Kafe owner Jim Dimitropoulos on Rundle Street. Picture: Tom Huntley

Elected members are expected to fiercely oppose the reintroduction of the fees.

Councillor Alexander Hyde said it “will be only over my dead body that they’ll be coming back”.

“It is absolute madness to see staff have placed these business-destroying fees back on the table,” he said.

“It shows how some in government can have a real tin ear.

“Our local hospitality businesses are only just getting back on their feet.”

Mr Hyde said he would be asking for an internal investigation into “how such an absurd proposal could see the light of day”.

Catherine Maier and Amee Campbell enjoying the outdoor dining at Lemongrass Thai Bistro on Rundle St on June 13. Picture: Tom Huntley

Catherine Maier and Amee Campbell enjoying the outdoor dining at Lemongrass Thai Bistro on Rundle St on June 13. Picture: Tom Huntley

North Adelaide ward councillor Phil Martin has written to business owners promising to oppose the fees.

Rundle St restaurant customer Catherine Maier said the move was “just crazy”.

“These poor businesses already are struggling as it is,” she said.

“How about giving them all a break for a while.”

Chief operating officer Amanda McIllroy said elected members would still have the ability to continue waiving the fees, with their inclusion on the register not necessarily meaning businesses would be charged.

“Outdoor dining fees have been excluded from the budget and waived for the past three years in accordance with the council resolution,” she said.

Morning coffee on Rundle St. Picture: Kelly Barnes

Morning coffee on Rundle St. Picture: Kelly Barnes

“The resolution called for the removal of outdoor dining fees from the 2019-20 budget.

“We have continued to exclude revenue from outdoor dining fees from the budget including for the 2022-23 year.”

Ms McIllroy said council was able to consider “whether it wishes to continue waiving outdoor dining fees, in line with the Reignite Adelaide plan to support the food and beverage industry”.

“The inclusion of outdoor dining fees in the fees and charges register does not automate the fee charge and inclusion in the budget, it simply provides the ability to charge and the delegation to waive is still in place,” she said.

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