Asian chow another victim of CBD redevelopment
ALMOST quarter of a century Joe Ao has been serving up tasty grub at Chinese Asian Cuisine in Ipswich City Square.
But next month, that tenure will come to an end, as most tenancies in the square will vacate.
"The landlord decided that it is time to renovate the whole place, so it's not only us, all the surrounding businesses have to go," Mr Ao told the QT.
"We have been here since February 1995, that brings us to gee, a little bit over 24 years.
"That's a long time - almost quarter of a century," he laughed.
Mr Ao still isn't sure if he will reopen the business yet or not, he's biding his time to see what will happen with the mall.
Originally born in East Timor, Mr Ao worked in Melbourne and had no idea where Ipswich was until he moved up here to open the business in the 90s.
"My sister and brother in law used to run a shop at Caboolture, a Chinese takeaway as well," he said.
"They asked me to come over and have a look and see what we can come up with, and the idea to open a shop in Ipswich."
Mr Ao worked in Richmond, Melbourne and lived on the same street as Molly Meldrum before he made the migration north to sunnier skies.
"He was a good fella," Mr Ao reminisced.
But it's the changes he's seen in Ipswich that have been the most interesting.
"A lot has been changed since (I started here) but not to the extent to when Riverlink was built," he said.
"That was when the great change came, everybody migrated from this end of the town to across the river to Riverlink and that was when everything started change.
When asked if he will return to the business, he laughs.
"This is the $121 million dollar question," he said.
"We might come back, we might not come back, it just depends on what happens around here with the redevelopment.
"We have a lot of regular customers... just to let them down the way we will is not fair.
"But we do have to take some time off to recalibrate and retool, we will come to have another crack - maybe - depending on what happens around here."
Mr Ao still has his doubts about the CBD redevelopment and whether it will help with foot traffic and parking and many of the other issues that have plagued it.
"They have more-or-less an idea of how to take this place forward, but it's not 100 per cent," he said.
It will be a sad day when he shuts the doors to Chinese Asian Cuisine for the last time on May 31.
Over his 24 years he said there are a slew of dishes he must prepare for his hungry patrons every day: fried rice, chicken chow mein, beef and black bean, satay pork, combination curry, chicken mushroom, honey chicken, spare ribs, lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork and Peking chicken.
While he waits to see what will happen with the CBD, Mr Ao will put up his feet and relax.
"We will take a bit of a long break and rethink about the whole strategy and whether or not to come back and give it another crack or to hang up the pots and pans," he said.
"We will take a big long holiday, spend more time with our two children, one boy and one girl.
"I only have two, but sometimes it feels like I have 22 of them at home," he laughs.
WHAT'S CLOSING - WHAT'S STAYING OPEN?
COUNCIL said the remaining tenants in the Nicholas St building, owned by the council, will be moving out by the end of May to allow the redevelopment work to commence.
"It would be impractical for these tenants, who have been on month-by-month tenure, to remain in place during reconstruction works," interim administrator Greg Chemello said.
"Leasing agents have been appointed to assist exiting tenants to find alternate locations. These conversations are ongoing.
"Because of their street-front location, Terry White Chemmart is the exception and will remain during the construction works.
"Council will be keeping the broader Ipswich Central business community informed of development progress over the next year, with the refurbished retail, entertainment and commercial buildings planned to be open, along with a shared vehicle/pedestrian Nicholas Street, by Easter 2020."