Zarraffa’s founder building $100m ‘dining destination’ in Queensland

The founder of the Zarraffa’s Coffee franchise is behind a venture to create a new dining and retail destination in the growth corridor between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, catering to locals who he believes have missed out on the experiential retail offerings more widely available in Sydney and Melbourne. 

“There’s a real under-servicing in the area for anything like this,” Kenton Campbell, founder and CEO of Zarraffa’s Coffee, told Inside Retail Weekly

‘This’ is Distillery Road Market, a $100 million dining-cum-retail-cum-concert venue being built on a 17,000sqm site in Beenleigh, Queensland. 

Campbell is pitching DRM as Queensland’s answer to Melbourne’s famed Queen Victoria and South Melbourne markets, where visitors can find the freshest fruit and veg, premium meat and dairy products, and gourmet pantry items all under one roof, alongside fashion, homewares, gifts and other items from a rotating mix of vendors. 

But he is taking the market concept one step further, with plans to have a pontoon on the nearby Logan River providing fresh seafood; cows and chickens on-site that children can pet and feed; a brewery; and three stages where live acts can perform on the weekend. 

Something for everyone

“This is probably the first market to collectively do [all] these things,” he said.

The “something for everyone” model is key to Campbell’s vision of making DRM a must-see destination for locals and tourists alike. The location, which has 750 car parks, is roughly 30 minutes from Brisbane and the Gold Coast and is expected to be accessible by bus. 

Campbell said he believes the venue could eventually attract 15,000 to 30,000 people “on a good day”. 

The project comes at a time when many regional and suburban shopping centres are seeing falling foot traffic due to the rise of online shopping. Centres and retailers are increasingly turning to dining precincts, special events and experiences to attract visitors. 

But Campbell is confident DRM will succeed where some traditional players have failed.

“You can’t get the diversity and depth [that DRM will offer] from Coles and Woolies. You’re not going to be able to see a blacksmith work or be able to get a really nice gift at a shopping centre,” said the entrepreneur, who moved from the US to Australia, where he started the Zarraffa’s Coffee franchise with his wife Rachel Campbell in 1996.

DRM is currently taking expressions of interest for permanent stallholders through Colliers, with a focus on independent operators offering Australian-made or -designed goods. 

Campbell said the leases would be market rent (“not shopping centre rent”) and that it was more important for him to have the right operators on board. 

“Rent is not secondary… but it’s more about getting the right operator in. We’ll ask them what they think they can afford, and see if we can afford to give it to them,” he said. 

One way Campbell plans to make this work is by focusing on B2C customers from Thursday to Sunday, and targeting B2B customers from Monday to Wednesday. 

He envisions DRM hosting off-site conferences and award nights for industry groups, and even private functions like 50th birthday parties. He has already situated Zarraffa’s headquarters and its bespoke Kiwanda Cafe on the premises.

Campbell expects to start construction on stallholder fit-outs this year, and aims to be open by Christmas 2020 or Easter 2021.

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