New owners snap up iconic Witches in Britches theatre 

New owners snap up iconic Witches in Britches theatre 
Brendan Rees

The curtain will soon fall on West Melbourne’s iconic Witches in Britches theatre after a new owner snapped up the building for the first time in nearly three decades.

The two-storey venue, which is known for its castle-like spires at the corner of King and Dudley streets, attracted huge notice following an expressions of interest campaign which saw the venue sell for $7.288 million.

“It was really pleasing to see the depth of the process, there were a number of occupiers, investors, both private, local, and offshore groups having a look at it, so it was met with pretty strong demand,” JLL agent Tim Carr said.

Mr Carr said the new purchaser was an international investor who was impressed with the prominent corner site.

“They really gravitated to that location being a true growth precinct within Melbourne’s fringe,” he said.

Mr Carr said he was not surprised by how much the building had fetched, adding “it was a pretty strong outcome, but it was the depth of bidding that really pushed it beyond expectations”.

He said while it was unknown what future plans the new owners had for the site, he confirmed “it will be a strategic landbank that they will hold for a period of time”.

The 1050 sqm site hit the market at the end of September, with the new owners reportedly being the Australian arm of China-backed developer Jinding.

Witches in Britches opened as a family-run business in 1990 before previously running as a pub and later a rock ‘n’ roll style café.

It has remained widely popular with the venue also surviving through COVID-19 lockdowns, and a $600,000 fire in 2006, which luckily resulted in no-one being injured.Witches in Britches’ owner Maurizio Termine said he would be meeting with the new building owners in January and “we’ll see what they’ve got to say”.

 

Caption: The iconic Witches in Britches building has been sold. Business owner Maurizio Termine will assess his options with the new owners in the new year.

 

The current lease is in place until the end of 2023, with the option of being extended for a further five years – which Mr Termine confirmed he would be re-signing “100 per cent”.

Mr Termine said there were parts of the building he would’ve like to revamp, which he thought could be done through a building inspection with the new owners, but he was told “they’re not interested in the building, they’re interested in the land”.

Mr Termine said he put in an offer, but it fell short of the asking price. In October, he said “If I had the power, I would buy it tomorrow”.  

 

“If you want to enjoy Witches, do it now but after five years we don’t know whether we say goodbye to Witches or take it somewhere else,” he said. 

 

Mr Termine has remained adamant that if he was to walk away from his beloved restaurant, he would consider finding another venue in Port Melbourne and making it the “best theatre restaurant in Australia”.

“I’m more leaning to take it to a lovely warehouse and make it a mini little Disneyland, with a ghost train,” he said. •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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