Solotel chief executive Elliot Solomon, whose CBD portfolio includes Opera Bar, Goros and the Edinburgh Castle Hotel, said weekends were “very strong” and that Goros, a late-night venue near Central, had never been busier.
Also aiding the CBD’s nighttime recovery is the absence of 1.30am lockout laws, which were repealed in January 2020, shortly before the pandemic began. New precincts have also come into their own, such as Barangaroo and Darling Square, while the Ivy precinct and “Thai Town” near the Capitol Theatre remain reliable late-night destinations.
But it’s not all upside; the decline in regular after-work drinks, especially on Fridays, and the demise of the Friday long lunch, are ongoing challenges for hospitality businesses, even if busier Thursdays make up for some of those losses.
Solomon said: “Mondays are quieter, Fridays are not what they were before. There’s more of a destinational crowd that comes to the city on Fridays now. You don’t have that 5pm to 7pm ‘sit in the bars’ like they used to.”
Inflation is also biting. Expensive cocktails are going the way of low interest rates and drinkers are returning to simple, cheaper beers and wines, according to some bartenders.
Steve Speed, publican at the Fortune of War in the Rocks, said the return of cruise ships had helped immensely, as had the city’s embrace of al fresco drinking and dining.