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Tropfest’s birthplace goes under the hammer

Tropfest’s birthplace goes under the hammer

By Ryan Ellem on Oct 31 2017

The landmark commercial premises housing Darlinghurst’s Tropicana Caffe – the birthplace of international short film festival, Tropfest – is set for auction as two of Sydney’s influential hospitality figures take the business into a new era.

Tonci Farac, the former creator and owner of the seminal Wildfire Restaurant in Circular Quay, and manager Duncan Thompson, a long-term senior member of Bill Granger’s restaurant stable, have recently taken a 10-year lease on the site, with options extending to 2047.

LJ Hooker Commercial Sydney’s Steven Kruyer and James Griffiths are managing the auction campaign for the site, which encompasses 284sqm of dining floorspace, 110sqm of storage and two secure car spaces. The lease generates more than $285,000 in annual rent.

Operating from Darlinghurst’s Victoria Road, the Tropicana Caffe has been a cornerstone of Sydney’s dining scene for almost four decades.

Opening in 1980, the Caffe quickly acquired a following for its prominent location, respect for traditional Italian cooking and outstanding value and service for patrons enjoying Darlinghurst and Kings Cross’ nightlife.

But its brand shot to prominence in 1993 when actor John Polson approached restaurant owner Sergio Tezzo with the idea to host 200 guests for an amateur short film evening in the café, appropriately named Tropicana

Film Festival, that was later shortened to ‘Tropfest’.

Almost a quarter of a century later, Tropfest lays claim to being the ‘world’s largest short film festival’ with its popularity requiring a shift outdoors, most recently to Parramatta Park.

Mr Kruyer said the auction represents an opportunity for an investor to buy a landmark part of the inner-city’s dining scene.

“The Tropicana has offered the atmosphere and flavours of Italy through an affordable and casual dining experience for decades,” said Mr Kruyer. “Long-time owners Sergio Tezzo and George Semaan built up a business which – while the film festival moved on – has retained patrons whom appreciate the considered Italian touch and value its dining experience offers.

“For an investor, this offering represents an opportunity to pick up a landmark address and new, seasoned hospitality tenants who are planning to take Tropicana well into the future.”

The new restaurant owners said they didn’t intend to rebrand or dramatically reinvent the Tropicana.

Mr Thompson said: “The Tropicana will look a little different in that we’re planning some renovations and the staff will have uniforms, but there’s no significant changes planned.

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it."

“We’ll expand the dining offering somewhat, but the Tropicana has built up a faithful list of regular clients and we’ll continue to offer the meals and experiences they’ve become accustomed to.”

Victoria Road is proving a hotbed for divestment currently with LJ Hooker Commercial also selling an 871sqm whole floor commercial space at Level 1, 274 Victoria Road. The property is fully leased, generating a combined gross income of $560,000 per annum plus GST across two tenancies.

LJ Hooker Commercial will auction the Tropicana Caffe building on November 30. For further information, contact Steven Kruyer (0414 404 070) or James Griffiths (0415 371 668).
Media contact:

Ryan Ellem
PR & Communications Manager
M 0427 916 020

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