Campaign launched to find hospitality operator for the Fitzroy Gardens Pavilion

Campaign launched to find hospitality operator for the Fitzroy Gardens Pavilion
Brendan Rees

The Pavilion at the iconic Fitzroy Gardens could be home to a hospitality operator after an expression of interest (EOI) campaign failed to find a tenant to use the venue as a multi-use community space.

The Pavilion café closed at the expiry of its lease in March 2017, mainly due to the building’s condition and the major renewal works that were required to continue to operate a sustainable café space. 

Most recently it has been used by the City of Melbourne’s creative spaces program, which provides opportunities for artists to help reactivate and reinvigorate Melbourne.

However, following community consultation findings, the council conducted an EOI process which closed in March, for the lease, fit-out and management of the Pavilion to provide a multi-use space combining a community outcome with hospitality services – but a successful tenant was unable to be identified. 

“Given the lack of community operators for the Pavilion and the second preference being for commercial use it is proposed that a commercial hospitality expression of interest to lease be undertaken,” a council report said, with the lease to begin in November 2022.

“The food and beverage operations in their own right have the potential to be exciting and better activate the Fitzroy Gardens including providing residents and tourists with an excellent culinary offering.”

Speaking at the council’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting on October 18, Deputy Lord Mayor Nick Reece said while the first round of EOI was a disappointing result, he had “no hesitation in supporting this new proposal and going out to a fully commercial EOI”.

“This is an extraordinarily special location in Melbourne, and I think we’re going to see some extraordinary and exciting ideas come forward,” he said. “I think it will attract a unique and exciting operator that this venue deserves.”

Cr Rohan Leppert said it was a “significant decision” to end the community based EOI which the council gave a “good go”, but he noted there “is no real strictures around what sort of commercial EOI we’re going out for”.


“My nervousness … is that if we only receive further expressions of interest that result in using this wonderful Pavilion as a fine dining, hospitality venue, I’m interested in understanding whether or not that will have the effect of excluding the community from that part of Fitzroy Gardens,” he said. “What will that do to the sense of community and accessibility for locals but also visitors for that precinct, not the pavilion itself, but that entire precinct?”


“We can still figure out if any of those preferred operators are open to working in a different way if we are worried about that exclusivity that might come with the EOI process.”

East Melbourne Group planning convenor Greg Bisnella said as the building was in an iconic location attracting the entire Melbourne community and visitors, “it is not surprising that the City of Melbourne is looking for a well-resourced tenant to bring the site to life”. 

“We have been disappointed that the facility has been underutilised over the past few years when it could have been used by the local community,” he said. “Council could have been more flexible in providing it for community use.”

Since 2010 the future use of the 1963-built Pavilion has been considered, with options including open space, rebuilding, or refurbishing the existing facility or retaining the existing structure for community or commercial use. •

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