Cairns Aquarium signs 20 year restaurant lease agreement with Aqualuna
The Cairns Aquarium has signed an exclusive 20 year lease agreement for the Cairns Aquarium Restaurant and Function Centre space with local restaurant personalities Gordon Kean, Matt Turner and renowned local chef Jarrod Donkin. As part of this new CBD revitalisation project, the Cairns Aquarium is creating a uniquely designed “Reef & Rainforest” dining experience in the new Aqualuna Restaurant. A 70,000 litre Black tip reef shark tank and a recreated Jetty is the visual centrepiece of the restaurant’s interior while a substantial outdoor undercover seated area will overlook a professionally landscaped Daintree rainforest themed setting.
Gordon Kean who was a founding partner and co-owner of L’unico at Trinity Beach for twenty years was so excited by the opportunity to be involved in the Cairns Aquarium project, he decided to sell his stake of L’unico and develop the brand new enterprise.
“Ever since I heard that there was going to be a world class aquarium in Cairns, I just had to be part of it. As a lover of quality food and memorable dining experiences, for me this is about making sure that visitors to Cairns enjoy an incredible meal as part of their interaction with mesmerising underwater sceneries at the Cairns Aquarium”, Kean said.
Cairns Aquarium CEO & Founder, Daniel Leipnik, said that entering into a long term collaborative partnership with Gordon, Matt and Jarrod was an easy decision. “Since we announced the start of the project, Gordon approached us almost monthly and was adamant on being involved. Originally, we were going to operate the restaurant and function centre as an internal component of the overall Aquarium business but after receiving so many proposals and analysing the capabilities that successful local restauranteurs offer, it became a strategic decision to enter into a lease agreement and longer term partnership. Gordon’s passion and proven experience stood out.”
“The Aqualuna menu will delight and tantalise. We are bringing together a mouth-watering offering of the region’s finest quality fresh seafood coupled with the flavours and colours of Mediterranean cuisine.” Kean explained.
The total floor area for the AquaLuna restaurant and function centre is 525 square metres. This includes indoor and outdoor seating for 250 people and a double sized commercial kitchen designed to cater for the restaurant patrons and a further 100 guests for private functions within the Aquarium itself.
But Gordon and his partners aren’t just promoting another dining venture. Aqualuna as a new hospitality business will be a significant investment and jobs creating enterprise in its own right.
“We are installing over $500,000 of brand new commercial grade stainless steel cooking equipment into the kitchen and outdoor bar and a further $150,000 in interior fitout. We expect the Aquarium to be the single busiest attraction in Cairns and we will be ready to provide exceptional meals to aquarium patrons as well as restaurant goers looking for a special aquatic experience outside of Aquarium opening hours.”
In addition to Aqualuna’s capital investment, the business will be hiring almost 50 staff bringing total employment of Aquarium and Restaurant staff to 130 full time equivalent jobs on site.
“Aqualuna will be open for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, seven days a week. We will have multiple shifts and two overlapping crews. We will be open during standard Aquarium operating hours and then late into the evening too. We also expect this unique venue to create considerable demand for corporate functions and celebratory events such as weddings and birthdays where people are looking for something new and unusual”. Kean said.
And Gordon may just be right in his predictions with the Cairns Aquarium staff receiving almost daily enquiries for functions.