Chocolaterie toasts liquor licence

January 5, 2022 BY

GORCI’s Ian Neeland, Maddy Lewis, Abbey O’Donnell and Meg Shaddock with some of the local wine and beer now on offer at the chocolaterie. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

AFTER a wait of more than a year, the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery (GORCI) has finally received its liquor licence, and fully opened its new servery on Boxing Day.

The chocolaterie in Bellbrae asked the Surf Coast Shire council in November 2020 to amend its 2015 permit to allow liquor sales and consumption and add “restaurant” to the land’s permitted uses, and also applied in January this year to remove a section 173 agreement that prevented the sale or consumption of liquor at the site.

The shire approved both applications at their March meeting, but the decision was then unsuccessfully challenged at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), and the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation finally granted GORCI a restaurant and cafe licence on November 22.

Speaking in early December, when the servery was about 90 per cent complete, GORCI executive director Ian Neeland said the chocolaterie was looking forward to supporting its local breweries, wineries and craft distilleries by offering a selection of local beverages to customers in its all-day cafe.

The servery is being built by Grovedale Kitchens, who took part in the chocolaterie’s original build in 2016.

Mr Neeland said the delays in getting the liquor licence were disappointing.

“We’re just pushing as hard as we can to open as early as we can now with Christmas here, and January and the school holidays, so people can sit here and enjoy the view, and have a quiet glass if they like.

“Maybe we’re conditioned to it – it took us so long to get this permit here – but you would have thought something small like this, when we’re only still going to trade within our current hours, it should have sailed through the council.

“Once it got through council, and then we went to VCAT because we had an objector, once we got through that, it was very fast through the licencing; it was a matter of weeks.”

He said GORCI’s online sales already offered pairing experiences for chocolate with either beer or wine, and there would be similar offers at the servery.

“We’ve got a lot of opportunity here to do cocktails. Already we have some mocktails, but now we’ll be able to spike them, and chocolate goes very well with a lot of different mocktails, so we’ll be certainly pushing that. It should be a lot of fun.”

Mr Neeland said serving liquor was not part of the original plan when GORCI was designed and built.

“At Yarra Valley (Chocolaterie), we don’t have liquor because we’re surrounded by vineyards, but we’re putting in liquor here to give another option for our customers and another reason to come here.

“We’ve got to try to make it as attractive as possible for people to come to the Surf Coast. There’s a lot of competition now for where people can go, because people aren’t going overseas, so all the regions are competing.”

GORCI’s restaurant and cafe is licenced to be open from 9am-5pm on every day except Christmas Day and from noon-5pm on Anzac Day, with a maximum capacity of 300 patrons (and must provide tables and chairs for at least 75 per cent of them).

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