Facebook group defends Grappa’s Admiralty

With fears of losing a popular restaurant, a Facebook group has been set up to support Grappa’s Admiralty, in the Pacific Place mall, as well as petition landlord Swire Properties against terminating its lease.

After 26 years in the mall, the Italian restaurant is popular with lawyers, who dine there between High Court hearings. Its future is uncertain, with American family diner Dan Ryan’s closing next month. Leading the Facebook campaign are criminal defence advocate Jonathan Midgley and lawyer Jackie Ho.

“Is it really a good idea to deprive people of their restaurant of choice by closing viable restaurants arbitrarily?” Midgley asks on the page. “Who would choose to open a business knowing that if it is successful the landlord might throw loyalty to the wind and refuse to renew the lease?”

A Swire Properties spokesman says there is “nothing arbitrary about our process and practices”. He says tenants are well aware that at the end of any term their leases may or may not be renewed.

Midgley cites the closure in 2014 of Domani, another restaurant owned by El Grande, the parent company of Grappa’s, that moved out to make way for a new concept restaurant run by Swire.

Swire’s plans include 50 per cent more food and beverage outlets in Pacific Place.
Swire Properties says its role as landlord is to keep refreshing its brands to ensure “more variety, diversity, a broader range of choices” as it combats a downturn in tourism numbers and falling retail sales.

It says outlets like Dan Ryan’s were “not fresh” after 27 years, and that no decision has been made yet about Grappa’s lease, being reviewed in the same context.

Facebook group user Jeff Herbert says Grappa’s should be considered an asset, describing it as “well established, heavily patronised and decent”.

Another user, Alpha Lau, vowed “never go to PP [Pacific Place] once both these restaurants close, for sure”. She said she would find the mall more useful instead as a passageway from Admiralty MTR station to the nearby Star Street bar and restaurant hub.

“I really miss Domani and I know many people feel the same. Many will miss Dan Ryan’s. I hope it is not too late to save Grappa’s,” says Midgley.

El Grande MD JR Robertson says its support, and the long-lasting friendships developed with customers over the past 25 years, was a “rare privilege” in a world of fast-changing trends.

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