Port Kembla’s new ‘breakfast club’ on Wentworth Street

Picture: Adam McLean
Picture: Adam McLean

A Port Kembla night spot has been revived and set to open more regularly, according to a Wollongong Council development application.

The Vault on Wentworth Street, largely known in recent years to host cabaret shows, was purchased by former Wave FM breakfast announcer Dave Gorr in 2016 for $800,000.

This week Mr Gorr lodged a new hand-written application to council to extend the hours of operation, alter the use of the venue and request a liquor licence.

“I am proposing to … continue as existing restaurant/cafe/entertainment venue,” he wrote in his application.

“Allowing trade without restriction between 6:00am – midnight seven days per week, with addition of small bar liquor licence and service of alcohol.”

A previous DA was before council in 2001 for a “breakfast club” by former owner Lou Belancic, thought it’s unclear what came of that application.

Mr Gorr told the Mercury he and his partner Suellen Priest have been putting a lot of time and energy into their new project with more to be revealed once renovations are complete.

Since June last year the venue has been open sporadically under the existing licence as a “BYO entertainment venue”. Previous events have included a disco music show, drag shows and an acoustic “jam night”.

It seems the new owner is trying to keep up the spirit of the entertainment space of nurturing Illawarra talent (as did the last owner). A recent post from their Facebook page stated “we are trying to build a boutique quality entertainment venue to showcase gifted local musicians”.

The former ANZ Bank was one of many banks left dormant after financial institutions pulled the plug on the port, the last one closing its doors in 1998, according to Wollongong City Council archives.

The 1980s and ‘90s saw the closure of many businesses including the local bowling club, a primary school and many shops as well as the destruction of the Whiteway Theatre during a fire.

At the turn of the millennium businesses were putting their faith back into the suburb and set up shop again in Wentworth Street –  such as bridal designs, high-quality printmaking, speciality cakes, cabinet makers, ceramic tiling, picture framing, restaurants and cafes.

Wentworth Street plan: (1) Focus on northern portion, (2) upgraded shopfronts, (3) kerb blisters to allow dining and (4) street trees. Images: Wollongong City Council.

Wentworth Street plan: (1) Focus on northern portion, (2) upgraded shopfronts, (3) kerb blisters to allow dining and (4) street trees. Images: Wollongong City Council.

Meantime in February this year, council released its future vision for Port Kembla revealing plans to turn the town and surrounding natural areas into a lively, well-used heritage and tourism centre.

In a new draft revitalisation plan, the council has laid out a multi-million dollar proposal to transform the former industrial suburb over the next 25 years.

For more history on Port Kembla, visit www.whereliesbeauty.com