Two Bros sudden closure shocks
HE worked 100 hours a week and didn't take a wage, but that wasn't enough for Joe Natoli to save his "dream" shop at Big Top Shopping Centre from failing.
The former mayor had hoped to continue a family legacy with the fresh food grocer and deli, which was located next to the former Nature's Way Fruit Market the Natoli family had run.
But after a half-price sale over the weekend, the big doors to Two Bros Specialising in Fresh closed for the last time, just eight months after its grand opening on June 11.
In a statement yesterday, Mr Natoli said earlier predictions of foot traffic at Big Top didn't match up with reality.
"We tried everything to make the business work," he said. "There just were not enough customers in the centre to sustain it.
"The business was designed to capture the large passing foot traffic that was forecast by the owners."
Mr Natoli has now let his 30 staff go.
"We would like to thank our staff and customers, many of whom have become our friends. We will sincerely miss you," Mr Natoli said.
"We ask locals to please support the small businesses in the area - they need and deserve it."
The shop doubled as a cafe and its fresh food, including fresh seafood, baked goods, and European deli offerings attracted a small but loyal customer base.
The establishment created a "buzz" at a key entrance to Big Top, said Duporth Ave resident Sharyn Sherrington.
"They offered good quality produce and they supported local businesses, which was really wonderful," she said.
Mrs Sherrington said Two Bros had become her "pantry" and now it was gone, locals in the many surrounding apartment blocks would have no independent grocers to walk to.
"They didn't deserve to fail, they did everything, for a business, that was right."
Do you shop at the Big Top?
This poll ended on 23 February 2016.
Yes. I live within walking distance.
No. I'd rather go to the Plaza - there's more variety.
I did but it's too depressing to go there now.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
She said she felt the shopping centre's focus on markets had been "an absolute disaster", because they were only open three days a week. She said larger commercial tenants were urgently needed.
Business owners and staff at Big Top shops had a mixed response to the closure, with some shop workers worried that despite the $20 million redevelopment ot the centre it would slide back into its former state as a shopping backwater.
Near the Duporth Ave entrance to the centre, empty shops are on all sides of Cobblers and Co.
"Rumours are going 'round that it's going back to what it was before the renovations...it's sad," employee Brett Cloake said.
Two Bros, which was located at the opposite end of the shopping centre, had been "a big attraction" and had increased the flow of customers a lot, he said.
Despite the rumours, Mr Cloake said he was optimistic trade would pick up.
Owner of The Source Bulk Foods Maroochydore Sheree Johnson agreed.
Big Top Shopping Centre management and its owner LaSalle declined to comment.
Shane Stanley, of Shane Stanley Farmers Markets, did not return the Daily's calls before deadline.