The Forge Pizzeria, and associated businesses, are just a few examples of the booming foodie culture on Armstrong Street North. Photos: SUPPLIED

The changing face of Armstrong Street North

July 3, 2019 BY

BY PETER MURPHY AND EDWARD KING – PRP BALLARAT

If you went back in time 10 years ago and asked a local, “Where should we go for dinner tonight?” you would probably hear them roll through a fairly short list of half-a-dozen options.

“MAYBE Dyers Steak Stable, or Craig’s Royal Hotel, Da Vinci’s, or even Gee Cee’s,” could have been the reply. The last place you would expect to hear was Armstrong Street North.

But times have changed, and that space has evolved from a suburban retail shopping strip to a foodie’s paradise.

What we now consider as Ballarat’s main takeaway food and dining hub didn’t exist 10 years ago. The strip, between Sturt and Mair streets, had a grand total of five eateries, of which only three still exist today. Well done to the modern food pioneers of Armstrong Street – Noodle Box, Chat for Tea, and Campana’s!

Over time, Armstrong Street has been the ideal case study for the changing face of retail in Australia. It is no secret that traditional retailers have faced a tough time in bricks and mortar locations, particularly with the convenience of goods turning up on your doorstep with just a few clicks of a button. At the same time, the food industry has stepped up to the plate to absorb the vacancy and Armstrong Street North has been the beneficiary.

In 2013, the City of Ballarat provided a $1 million facelift to the strip, which included the removal of street centre and kerbside parallel car parks and replacing them with angle parking. This modification was met with mixed opinions from retailers and complaints from customers over finding a place to park. However, the increased street appeal and functionality has gone a long way to bring the street to life.

Since 2009, we have counted no less than 36 businesses that have departed Armstrong Street. Of these, only two were food retailers. Today, there are a total of 17 eateries, a far cry from the five in 2009.

A modern icon of the area The Forge Pizzeria which replaced the former CV Jones Antiques and Art Gallery. Since their opening in 2012, The Forge has expanded its businesses to include Housey Housey event space on one side and the new 1816 artisan bakery on the other. This expansion underlines their confidence in the future of Armstrong Street for food and entertainment.

The success has also created a flow on effect to the immediate surrounds. Hop Temple and The Hydrant have both given life to former factories in laneways off the main strip and we have seen the establishment of Moon & Mountain, Le Petit Pâtissier and D&C’s café all very close by. By virtue, this has created the ‘Armstrong Street North Food Precinct’.

To further whet the appetite of food and beverage retailers, 21 Armstrong Street North (known as the ‘21 Arms’ nightclub 10 years ago) has recently been leased to a State government department and, coupled with the expected completion of the GovHub in 2020 there will be plenty more mouths to feed.

While 10 years ago, Armstrong Street North was simply somewhere you’d passed on the way to your destination, today it is THE destination to satisfy your hunger in Ballarat.

To find out more contact Preston Rowe Paterson Ballarat on 5334 4441 or ballarat@prp.com.au or visit prp.com.au.