Mystery surrounds Fort Denison catering battle

Fort Denison’s food and beverage operations have been offered on a five-year lease with an option to extend for another five years.

The NSW government has abruptly terminated negotiations at Fort Denison that would have seen a new food and beverage operator appointed for the heritage-listed tourism icon in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

The state government invited expressions of interest for an initial five-year lease plus five-year option at Fort Denison’s cafe and restaurant, which covers about 470sqm of the 2000sqm island, 1.4km east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, last month.

But it abruptly terminated the expressions of interest campaign last week, refusing to reveal why.

“The EOI for Fort Denison has been suspended while a commercial negotiation is before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal,” says a spokesman for the Office of Environment and Heritage.

At one stage the incumbent Fort Denison restaurateur, Liz Taylor, managing director of Tailored Events, who has operated the Fort Denison restaurant since 2011, was planning to re-tender, according to sources.

The government has given no reason for the terminatino of its expressinos of interest campaign for a fort denison food and beverage outlet. Picture: Adam Yip

The government has given no reason for the termination of its expressions of interest campaign for Fort Denison’s food and beverage operation. Picture: Adam Yip

Contacted by The Australian, Taylor says she is under instructions not to comment.

The island is accessible by ferry and water taxi, but private boats are not permitted to land as there are no private mooring facilities.

The NSW government previously said any options for the lease of different areas of the island’s infrastructure, which was built in 1862, will be considered. But proposals must allow for public access and contribute towards the conservation of Fort Denison’s buildings.

More than 7100 people visited Fort Denison in 2014-15 as part of government tours, excluding visitors for special events, functions and dining.

Under the present leasing arrangements the NSW government earns a percentage from each restaurant patron. All outgoings must be met by the party running the restaurant, according to the government documents.

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