Gelato bar set to wow customers by mid-2013

Owners of the new gelato bar set to take up residence at Wollongong's Southern Gateway Centre say they expect the first scoops of the delicious dessert to be served by mid-year.

Gelato Ingredients Manufacturers of Australia (GIMA) boss Robert Di Francesca said his company planned to lodge a development application in the next couple of weeks to outfit the vacant space, and promised visitors would be impressed.

"We've engaged a top interior designer to come up with the look," Mr Di Francesca said.

"It's going to have the 'wow factor' inside to go with the beautiful scenery outside."

While Mr Di Francesca was hesitant to speculate on volumes of visitors he might expect to get through the doors once the store opened, he said the company's manufacturing plant and office, based in Molong, near Orange, was regularly packed out with customers.

"We opened there [in Molong] four and a half years ago and we never predicted how busy it would be," he said.

"Although we've never advertised, we get bike clubs and bus tours through all the time. It's all come via word of mouth."

Mr Di Francesca said visitors to the shop would be able to see the gelato being made on the premises and participate in gelato-making courses.

"People will also be able to buy the ingredients over the counter so they can go home and make their own gelato," he said.

GIMA also supplies its ingredients wholesale to hundreds of food outlets, restaurants and cafes in Australia and South-East Asia.

It is this side of the business in which the new Bulli Tops outlet will take a staring role, with plans to set up part of the shop as a showroom for new and existing clients.

"Bulli Tops is closer for our Sydney customers than the Molong store," Mr Di Francesca said.

"It's much more practical for the manufacturing side of the business to be able to invite people to Wollongong to try the products."

GIMA's move to Bulli Tops will end an almost two-year search for a new tenant for the Southern Gateway Centre after the troubled Jumbulla Aboriginal Discovery Centre was forced to close down in February 2011 due to lack of patronage.

GIMA will move into the space on a 10-year lease with an annual rent of $60,000 and a nine-month rent-free period.

It is understood Wollongong City Council rejected a more lucrative offer for the space from the site's other tenant, the Indian restaurant Altitude 1148, in favour of GIMA's proposal.

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