I feel sorry for hardworking people who start small businesses that often fail, but at the same time I wonder how they thought they could make a living from them. In December 2008 I wrote about a Chinese restaurant opening on Brunswick St. Called Ka Ka, it took the place of a short-lived Vietnamese restaurant called La Vines. They eventually realised the name was a disaster and by August 2009 it had been renamed the Freedom Village, but this did not result in better patronage and now it is closed.

freedomclosed freedom has left the village

In my opinion, rapidly changing business names is a sign the operator does not understand or care about the area they are doing business in – consider the Johnston club or the Workers Club hotel. I’ve also mused previously on why one business after another fails in a specific property. When it was well run the cafe called Baker’s did well in this Brunswick St space, so I don’t think it is the space alone. La Vines, Ka Ka and Freedom Village simply had no charm, charisma or aesthetic appeal. These intangibles are very difficult to manufacture, but they are essential for a business to flourish.

freedom has left the village

5 thoughts on “freedom has left the village

  • 22 March 2010 at 10:09 pm
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    Ooh, this is a topic that fascinates me, too. My partner and I love to speculate on whether new places in Collingwood/Fitzroy will last, based on location and the business type.

    In the case of Ka Ka/Freedom I suspect it was a mix: yes, the name wasn’t very gripping, but I also just think Brunswick St isn’t the right place for a suburban-style Asian restaurant (there’s plenty of shitty, westernised Asian food on the strip, mind, but they have generally gone to the effort to really do the venues up). If I saw this place when out looking for meal, I don’t think the crappy looking sign and generic nature of the place would really grab me, compared with, say, Viet Rose, Penang Affair or Pattee Thai (all of which I happen to think serve supremely ordinary food, but they all have good street appeal and descriptive names).

    If it was just down the road and I needed a local Asian takeout joint, I’d be far more likely to try it (especially if they delivered. This area is SO lacking in non-pizza places that deliver).

    I don’t think image is everything — I doubt dour-looking Old Kingdom and its boring name would survive in its uber-trendy strip of Smith St if not for its reputation and excellent food, but you do have to get people in there to try the food in the first place.

    I’m currently keeping an eye on Yong Green Food — that location has already lost two places doing excellent food in Happy Kappa and Grillaz (the latter also suffering from a terrible name; I had a housemate who flat-out refused to go there on that basis alone, even though he knew the food was really tasty and cheap). I swear that little shop is cursed.

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    • 23 March 2010 at 12:50 am
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      I never tried Grillaz but it definitely had some fans, and I liked Happy Kappa and was sad to see it close. I’m about to try Yong with a vegan friend. Am also sad because I’ve been told that the amazing Mamanee Thai on Smith St has also closed. Why?

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  • 23 March 2010 at 1:54 pm
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    High rents is the problem with Brunswick st. It will continue to attract the wrong tenants whiles rents spiral. Smith st will have the same problem in a year or 2 . Gertrude st is already there. Businesses need time to establish themselves and win over the locals. Landlords need to foster this by giving discounted rents for up to 6 months to get a long term tenant that will work in the area. ( they could cover themselves by getting a larger bond ie 3-6 months rent). It ties in with controlling the type of businesses a communty /council wants to foster. Fitzroy /colling wood need to foster the quirky & niche and rent controls or council support for landlords by underwriting this would help.
    sorry may be a little off subject – but i dodnt go to any of those venues mentinoned above , because they dont fit the street’s “culture” or the demographic – albeit constantly changing!.
    All Food for thought

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  • 30 March 2010 at 10:45 am
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    It’s funny though. The Turkish restaurant on the corner or Park Street and St Georges Road is gone, like many others before it. However I don’t think Rita Macali’s Supermaxi is going to fail.

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    • 30 March 2010 at 12:38 pm
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      Poor Tugra. I liked it and the people were nice. I can’t understand why they could not make a living there. I’m looking forward to trying Supermaxi soon! It’s already been reviewed by EssJay eats.

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