Another Pako St shop closure

The southern end of Pakington St is set for more change as a small-business owner says he cannot continue in the current economic climate, with development of the site put on hold due to rising costs.

Allan Heyne and Paige Gailius transformed their successful toastie food truck business into a bricks and mortar outlet called We Are The Press late last year.

However, the pair have announced they are unable to see out their 12-month lease and will serve customers for the final time this Sunday.

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Mr Heyne said the hard decision was a “combination of everything”, including interest rate rises and cost-of-living pressures, as well as untenable power and gas prices.

“We will figure something else out and throw ourselves in the deep end,” he said.

He said they were not alone in facing these struggles, claiming his friends and colleagues had been forced to close hospitality venues in recent times.

“There’s no point running a business anymore, it’s an employee’s world,” he said.

Paige Gailius and Allan Heyne cut their 12-month lease short because of the finanical stress on the business. Photo: Ginger + Mint.

Excited for what lies ahead, the owners are keen to say their goodbyes to customers and staff on the weekend. Photo: Ginger + Mint

In a message shared to social media, Mr Heyne and Ms Gailius thanked their customers and hard working staff.

“As we bid farewell, let’s remember to support local businesses and the hospitality industry during these very challenging times,” it said.

Customers were drawn to the adventurous and creative menu at We Are The Press, which included items such as Mars bar, spaghetti, and cheeseburger toasties.

The location was previously home to restaurants Bobby Dre’s, Picket Fence, and The Cottage.

The Geelong Advertiser reported in June last year that an application had been made to transform the property into a two-storey, multi-use development.

The plans, submitted by Tony Preiato & Associates to the City of Greater Geelong, detailed a proposal to split the building into two separate shop fronts with a three-bedroom apartment upstairs.

It is understood plans to proceed with development have been shelved for the time being due to ballooning construction costs.

One Pakington St shop owner said they were concerned the area was slowly becoming overdeveloped, with small businesses being forced out.

Cotton On founder and billionaire Nigel Austin has been buying up properties in the precinct in recent years.

The Village Store, which was located at 324-326 Pakington St, closed in January after its owners were unable to absorb what is understood to be at least a 50 per cent rent hike put forward by Mr Austin.

There are plans for a $180m high-density development at 403 Pakington St that would revitalise the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Woollen Mill.

Plans for a mixed-use complex at the corner of Rutland and Hampton streets landed with council late last month.

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