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Revolving restaurant rebirth

Business

Glenelg’s revolving restaurant has been reborn as serviced offices, with the first tenants moving in late last month.

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The 15-office space also features meeting rooms and a public bar and café, which will open when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The six-month serviced office refit becomes the seventh SA site for Business Hub, an Adelaide company that opened its first office in Seaton during the GFC more than a decade ago.

Powered by a 1.5hp engine, the floor plate still rotates, taking a little over an hour for the top floors of Glenelg’s Atlantic Tower to complete a full circuit.

Business Hub founder George Kipriz has developed a knack for purchasing out-of-fashion spaces and has also converted the former Zhivago night club in Currie Street and a former gym above Cotto Café on Prospect Road into serviced offices.

He said the revolving Business Hub Glenelg offered views of the city, Adelaide Hills and coast and was the only revolving serviced offices in the world.

“We schedule it to revolve twice throughout the day – there aren’t that many revolving buildings and the ones that are operating are restaurants but we’ve converted ours into serviced offices and as far as we know there is nothing else like this around,” Kipriz said.

Inside the converted former revolving restaurant at Glenelg.

The revolving restaurant near the end of Anzac Highway was a popular spot for Adelaide diners and romantics in the ‘80s and ‘90s but was dubbed the ‘revolting restaurant’ in more recent times as its success waned ahead of its closure in 2014.

The apartment and motel aspect of the building opened in the 1970s as Adelaide’s tallest residential building. The revolving restaurant component opened in 1980 as the Rock Lobster Café and underwent a series of name and ownership changes over the years. The building’s 12th floor restaurant was advertised in a high sales profile campaign with an asking price of $1.5 million in 2018.

The first three tenants moved in to the serviced offices in the last week of April.

Kipriz said the official Glenelg launch had been planned for April but was delayed until the café and bar was allowed to open and a proper celebration could be held.

“We want to have 100-plus people here for the launch event and we can’t do that yet – we haven’t really even started marketing it yet, it’s just been word of mouth,” he said.

From the early days in Seaton in 2009, Business Hub has grown to almost 200 members and has launched its own app to reduce the need for face-to-face contact during COVID-19 and also to help members connect.

Kipriz said the Business Hub model of individual offices sat somewhere between a co-working office space often used by startups and entrepreneurs and the more corporate serviced suites traditionally leased by larger businesses.

Although it has two serviced offices in the CBD, Kipriz said creating small serviced offices in suburbia was a key point of difference for Business Hub.

“We love the suburbs and boutique suburban offices are what we want to focus on,” he said.

“They are ideal for small businesses that want to work close to home, have access to car parking and its easier for their clients to access their services.

“We have to think very creatively per site and we look at the angles to see what members like and dislike, what the amenities in the area are.”

Although some tenants have asked for support during the COVID-19 shutdown, Kipriz said he had also experienced an increase in leads from people wanting the flexibility a serviced office provided.

He said these inquiries were usually from businesses looking to downsize or from people wanting to move out of a home office situation.

“Before COVID we were doing six-month leases but since COVID we’re offering short-term agreements of just 30 days and we’ve completely eliminated the need for security bonds and bank guarantees that most leases need and we’re basically eliminating barriers to entry in the office market,” he said.

“In the GFC we found a lot of small businesses not wanting to commit to long leases and we found larger businesses wanting to downsize.

“We’ve seen it start happening again but for very different reasons.

“The demographic has changed a bit and we’re getting a lot of people with children struggling to work from home and also finding larger businesses as well wanting to put their employees into smaller, safer environments.”

Business Hub is also looking to soon open another serviced office in the Tea Tree Gully area.

But unlike its other sites, which it owns, the St Agnes office conversion was at the request of a property owner.

Kipriz said this model would likely be the way forward for Business Hub and would allow it to expand more rapidly.

He said he had also recently developed a “52 ways checklist” to help building owners assess if their site was suitable to be converted into a Business Hub serviced office.

“The (St Agnes) building owner approached us and said ‘we love the concept, we love the brand, can you do this with our site’ and so this is new territory for us where we do not have any lease or ownership of the site, we are purely managing the site for them,” Kipriz said.

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