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Chesser Cellar ready for revival


The legendary Chesser Cellar restaurant space is set to be brought back to life, but in a different guise.

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Chesser Cellar was once the place where Adelaide’s political and corporate wheeling and dealing was done. Its closure in 2012 was a bad sign for a city trying to talk itself out of a slump.

But, after an announcement this morning, the empty space on the vine-covered lane in the middle of the city is set to revived.

Now under the control of that symbol of “new” culture and commerce in the CBD – Renew Adelaide, the property will be offered to tenants under a rolling short-term, rent-free lease. Applications for the space, which incorporates a 10,000-bottle cellar in the basement, a split-level restaurant over ground and first floors and a commercial kitchen and cool room, open today.

Renew Adelaide CEO Lily Jacobs says the Chesser Celllar property presents extra challenges because of its heritage listing, meaning adapting it for new uses can be either costly or impossible.

“With Adelaide City Council’s support for Renew Adelaide to work on heritage buildings we have been able to secure Chesser Cellars,” she says,

“It is a beautiful building that has a unique regulatory framework, but Renew Adelaide has demonstrated that it can work through that to provide an opportunity for creative entrepreneurs. We’re excited to see the brilliant placemaking and business outcomes that the right applicant will create for themselves, the property owners and the precinct.”

The space comes with an existing liquor license, the stipulations of which reflect both the old culture of liquor licencing in South Australia and the business dynamics historically found in the area.

So as not to interfere with nearby pubs, Chesser Cellar was prevented from serving any beer on tap, but was allowed to serve all other kinds of liquor 9am-10pm on any day except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day and any liquor with meals until even later. Meanwhile, a two-piece jazz band is acceptable after 11am, but a rock band is never acceptable.

Despite the quirks of the licence, it offers good opportunity for potential tenants. Alongside the ability to serve for long hours each day, there is also a provision to sell alcohol (other than flagons or casks, of course) to take-away from the premises. Use of this function could redress the need for a central place where city workers and residents could pick up a bottle on their way home from the office.

Renew Adelaide says that, given the multifarious nature of the space, the successful applicant could well be a collective of operators rather than just one. An open inspection of the site is being conducted on February 15 at 4pm, applications close on February 28 and an announcement of the successful tenant will be made on March 7.

This article originally appeared on CityMag

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