The West

Vic Park discovers recipe for vitality
The Precinct Supervisor: Josh Edmeades with a magnum of MOA Marlborough Pilsner. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

It's the hottest, hippest cafe strip in Perth.

Victoria Park's mix of authentic, inexpensive Asian and Italian food and great bars and cafes has transformed the Albany Highway shopping strip and attracted hospitality hopefuls lured by a lack of pretension, low rents and a local authority making things easy to start-up.

The 20 blocks of Albany Highway between Teddington Road and Dane Street is the go-to address for young restaurant wannabes, fast-food chains and trendy bar owners.

There are still car yards aplenty but the hospitality sector is making its presence felt.

Restaurateurs say by far most of their customers are locals but as word spreads, Victoria Park is becoming a dining and drinking destination.

Malaysian marketing executive Calvin Tan opened his coffee shop just 12 days ago. He is the latest in a wave of new business hopefuls attracted to the rapidly expanding strip.

"It's a dream to do this," Mr Tan, 29, said. "I could see the potential. This is another Mt Lawley in the making."

Mr Tan's Sixteen Ounces shop is one of an unprecedented 69 new cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars to open in the past two years in Victoria Park.

Owner of the newly opened Sixteen Ounces, Calvin Tan, with barista Alex Morgan. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Other newcomers include Chinese hotpot restaurant Hao Szechuan Steamboat, which has been open less than a month and has queues most nights, and 6101 Tapas Bar, which has built a reputation for authentic Spanish food in its few months.

Local MP Ben Wyatt believes the biggest influence on the local dining scene is Curtin University.

"Curtin has aggressively pitched for overseas students in recent years," he said. "These students are predominantly Asian and their presence has helped underwrite the restaurant scene along the strip."

MP Ben Wyatt on Albany Highway in Victoria Park. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

Town of Victoria Park mayor Trevor Vaughan says "rent refugees" from the Subiaco, Mt Lawley and Claremont retail strips have brought a new generation of restaurateurs to the strip.

"The rising rents in some of Perth's high-profile restaurant strips have priced out much of the new and exciting food offerings," he said. "It has generated much more interest in Vic Park."

Mr Vaughan cites the town's streetscaping program, relaxing onerous in lieu parking levies, creating "pop-up gardens" and a recently launched tourism strategy for "adding to the positive retail environment".

There are 171 food businesses on Albany Highway, with 69 new businesses approved within the Town of Victoria Park since 2012.

Restaurateur Josh Edmeades, a manager at The Precinct bar, says the mix of cheap and not-so-cheap food keeps students returning and creates vitality.

"There's a real community spirit here, which you won't find in Subi or Mt Lawley," he said. "Seventy-five per cent of our customers are local and eat out a lot."

Additional reporting by Sandra Kirk

The West Australian

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