Perth Gangemi’s Fine Wines & Food venues and Comedy Lounge receive City of Perth redevelopment grant

Two Perth businesses are sprucing up their storefronts with help from the City of Perth.

West Perth’s Gangemi’s Fine Wines & Food and The Comedy Lounge on Murray Street are two of many Perth businesses that have received Business Improvement Grants from the City of Perth this financial year.

Gangemi owners Edward Johnson and Tobias Goyder-Ewan told PerthNow this week the $20,000 grant would be used for a major redevelopment of the famous bottle and liquor store on the corner of Hay Street.

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The duo said they believe their business was the first free-standing metropolitan liquor store to trade in Perth, having been open since 1911.

Camera iconCo-owners Tobias Goyder-Ewan and Edward Johnson, Gangemi’s Fine Wines. Credit: Andrew Ritchie/Perth now

The historic establishment will receive an interior facelift to transform it into a small 80-person bar with indoor dining, alfresco space and a European-style deli offering. Drinks will be served until 10 p.m.

The company will also build a coffee shop window which will be open from 7am.

“We’ve been retailing liquor and wine and we’re going to be focusing on retailing wine and liquor with the added ability to sit down and have a glass of wine on top, and that extends this “try before you buy”. ‘ ethos,’ Mr Johnson said.

“We’re transforming it from just a retail business into a dine-in and take-out consumption and a place for the community.”

Artist's impression of the new bar at Gangemi's Fine Wines & Food during the evening.
Camera iconArtist’s impression of the new bar at Gangemi’s Fine Wines & Food during the evening. Credit: Gangemi’s Fine Wines and Food

Mr Johnson said the grant would be used to pay for “base construction”, including the construction of toilets, amenities and access for people with disabilities.

Redevelopment of the site is set to begin as early as next week, with the duo aiming to not close the store during construction and have additions ready by October.

“You can chat with us, you can sit down, we can talk about wine if people are interested,” Mr Johnson said.

“Or they can just have a place to hang out, eat bread and cheese and have a glass of wine.”

In the CBD, the exterior and driveway of the Comedy Lounge will get a makeover.

“Overall, we expect the exterior enhancements to increase Comedy Lounge’s public awareness and organic traffic,” said Jack McAllister, director of business development and marketing.

“It’s amazing how many people are unaware that Perth has its own purpose-built comedy club, so hopefully this helps spread the word.”

Jack McAllister (Event Organizer) Sunday Singles at the Comedy Lounge will be launched as a weekly Sunday event for singles in Perth.  Andrew Ritchie
Camera iconJack McAllister (Event Organizer) Sunday Singles at the Comedy Lounge will be launched as a weekly Sunday event for singles in Perth. Andrew Ritchie Credit: Andrew Ritchie/Community News

The team behind the establishment is studying the possibility of installing 3D projectors that would display the program of the room and a promotional video.

Mr McAllister said designs were being drafted for the alley’s new street art, which would include a portrait of the greatest comedians of all time.

“We’re in a great place where we get a lot of daily traffic passing by the site,” he said.

“It’s an aspect of advertising that we haven’t used yet: we want to be noticed when people walk past our site.

“First impressions count and at the moment the appearance of the building and the walkway does not match the quality of the entertainment we provide.

“The upgrades will help impress upon guests that this is a high quality establishment with world class live entertainment.”

Mr McAllister said the $12,950 grant would go towards the works, but the upgrade would cost “a lot more”.

“The last few years for business have been a roller coaster ride, so it’s good to know the government is showing support,” he said.

“We haven’t made any significant or noticeable upgrades for about three years now, so we’re well overdue for a makeover.

“All of our recent major upgrades have been on the interior, which has been money well spent, but it’s time to upgrade the exterior.”

Visitors to the Comedy Lounge should begin to see the aisle improvements finalized in the coming weeks.

The two institutions were among 21 companies to receive grants.

City staff had recommended that only nine out of 25 grant applications be approved, bringing the total grant allocation to $157,050.

But councilors approved grants for any applications that scored above 60% in the city’s assessment. The move, suggested by Cr Brent Fleeton, saw 12 of the 16 companies recommended for rejection receive a grant after all.

Amberjacks at Elizabeth Quay was one of 16 businesses whose application was recommended for denial, but will now receive $16,421 to create a raised outdoor patio with umbrellas and additional weather cover.

The Heritage Wine Bar will also receive a $20,000 grant to install a suspended outdoor area between the bar and the podium at Brookfield Place to fill a void and increase capacity.

The council also agreed to allocate an additional $194,911.57 to its grant program to account for the move, which the city’s general manager of community development, Kylie Johnson, said was “not supported”. .

“The board approved the annual budget on July 12, which included the $150,000 allocation for the business improvement grant program,” she said.

“Any changes made will impact potential future programs.”

Cr Fleeton said councilors had budgeted $150,000 for the grants program this fiscal year before discovering the city was in a better starting position of $3 million.

“We have the funds; Now is the right time to make this investment on behalf of taxpayers because the city needs it,” he said.

Shirley M. Pinder