POPULAR Ballarat restaurant and live music venue Portico on Sturt closed its doors last week as the owners called for better support of Ballarat businesses.
Opened in 2010, venue owner Donna Pentland said high rental costs and council rates had led to the decision to close at short notice.
“I am devastated but we put as much into it as possible and had to decide to follow another opportunity,” she said.
“My intention was always to make Portico more than just another cafe and to turn it into a busy community space with events and music from all walks of life.”
Ms Pentland said the closure was a sign of difficult economic conditions and operators would take over the Eastern Station Hotel in Humffray Street.
She said local shopping centres like Central Square and Stockland Wendouree made it difficult for stand-alone businesses and called on local customers to support CBD venues.
“People have said to me recently that they didn’t realise we were even here and I think it’s because people aren’t getting out of their cars and exploring the city,” Ms Pentland said.
The Eastern Station will benefit from renovations and upgrades, with a friendly atmosphere, coffee machine, beer garden and open fires.
Commerce Ballarat executive officer Jodie Gillett said the organisation was sad to see
any local business close.
“In this tough environment it is crucial that businesses use each and every avenue that is available to them to market their business, it is not enough anymore just to place an ad and hope for the best,” she said.
“Good examples are new businesses like The Forge and yet-to-be-opened Mitchell Harris who have been very active in their local business organisations and also pro-active online through social media.”