As the city continues to bounce back from the COVID-19 downturn, one Tasmanian restaurant has reignited its expansion into the North, with a new restaurant set to open later this year.
Hobart-based Hokkaido Sushi will open its fifth location in late November, making it the first sushi train restaurant in the heart of the Launceston CBD.
Hokkaido Sushi co-owner Eric Yang said the move North was precipitated by customer feedback he received from their Hobart locations.
"We opened our first two in Hobart about two years ago, and many customers from the North of Tasmania came through and they asked us to open another one in Launceston," he said.
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Mr Yang said the restaurant was the culmination of two years of hard work and delays brought on by the pandemic and economic uncertainty.
With short-term confidence in the market low, Mr Yang and his business partners placed the plans for the restaurant on hold, and instead opened a takeaway concession on Racecourse Crescent.
Mr Yang said the concession was a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to gauge the local demand before proceeding with a larger investment.
After securing a highly desirable Brisbane Street location, and with stability returning to the state, Mr Yang said the decision to proceed with a Launceston restaurant was revived.
After an eight-month search for the right location, the business settled on a 150 square metre Brisbane Street front - the former site of the now-closed Gloria Jean's cafe.
He said when the restaurant opened later this year it would create 25 new jobs for the hospitality market, including chefs, waiters and front of house staff.
With border restrictions still in place, Mr Yang was concerned the business would not be able to recruit the right staff for the speciality restaurant and was planning to send sushi makers up from Hobart to train local applicants.
Hokkaido Sushi is one of several new businesses to take up residence in the CBD which has seen the city's occupancy rate climb to 93 per cent since June last year.
Cityprom executive officer Amanda McEvoy said a range of new local and international businesses had opened in Launceston's CBD in the past 12 months.
She said once Hokkaido Sushi opened there would be six places to purchase sushi in the city, adding to the diversity of the local restaurant scene.
"We are thrilled to see such a diverse range of food options now being available in Launceston. It is no longer necessary to travel to larger cities to experience a large range of quality food," she said.
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