Gelatissimo’s sweet success: renewing a precinct, creating a destination

(Source: Supplied.)

Retailers seeking new opportunities to set up shop in Queensland need to take a close look at Ipswich’s newly revitalised Nicholas Street Precinct – an area currently undergoing a profound transformation into the city’s leading lifestyle, leisure, entertainment, and cultural destination.

A formerly run-down mall located in the city centre that has been lovingly remodelled into a prime public gathering space with an emerging range of dining and leisure tenancies, Nicholas Street is now home to libraries, galleries and a dedicated civic square and presents an attractive opportunity for retail businesses to take advantage of its newfound energy and drive.

One such business that has seized this opportunity in Nicholas Street as an early adopter is Gelatissimo, a nationally renowned gelato brand under franchise owners Li Zhou and Vanessa Wei Wang – and is now benefitting from the precinct’s growing appeal amongst local residents. With the owners seeing the potential of the area from the outset, Gelatissimo Ipswich has become one of the development’s first success stories, with the outlet ideally situated to take advantage of skyrocketing footfall.

“Geographically, it’s in the middle of everything,” says Li, who reports seeing a considerably higher performance from Gelatissimo Ipswich over the pair’s original franchise location in Brisbane. “There are council administration offices, state government buildings, hospitals, schools, and a transport hub with a train station, libraries, and an art gallery – all in close proximity. It’s all here.”

This strategic location sees thousands of office workers, families, and commuters passing by every day, which has been instrumental in making Nicholas Street an ideal location for businesses.

Understanding that the area was formerly neglected and had a colourful history, Li and Vanessa were impressed at the openness and transparency of the council and its agents, who fully engaged in negotiations and gave them confidence that any concerns they might have were being addressed and supported at every stage.

“They’ve always been open in guiding us on the vision of the precinct from the start, and we can see that they’re actually delivering on what they said they would,” says Li. “They’ve beautified the area with an active focus on safety to make sure that it’s now a welcoming, family-friendly space. We feel really supported in this location. That’s why we made the move.”

For Li, the council’s commitment to refurbishing Nicholas Street and its willingness to work with businesses to create a thriving retail environment has brought such success to Gelatissimo Ipswich that it has now become a testament to the growing attraction of the precinct.

“We’ve only been trading for about nine months, but we’ve been watching the area for two years and the crowds just keep getting bigger and bigger,” says Li. “Tulmur Place public square is a perfect space for any sort of event, and there have been a variety of these held there from school holiday celebrations to themed night markets that are just huge – the most recent school holiday program featured licenced stage performances, markets and activities and was probably our record in terms of sales. Plus there’s a whole pipeline of events happening over the next couple of months, which is very exciting as well.”

Complementing the balance of the precinct, the Tulmur Place civic square has more than 4000 square metres of space, a dedicated performance stage, water splash play area, LED screen and more than 1000 underground car spaces. It has been warmly welcomed by the community as the gathering place and cultural heart of the CBD.

The vibrant calendar of events is part of the precinct’s strategy to drive awareness and visitation while actively attracting retail businesses to the area, with new tenancies frequently opening up shop – including That Dumpling Place, Stellarossa, Zambrero, Sushi Hyo, Terry White Chemmart and Sofia Nails alongside Gelatissimo. 

HOYTS, currently constructing a state-of-the-art six-screen cinema, and AusHotels, delivering the area’s much-loved Commonwealth Hotel, have also signed on as anchor tenants – with more announcements to come. These new retail offerings, along with an active events calendar including markets, expos and live music performances, have given rise to a vibrant atmosphere that supports increasing visitation and opportunities for brands and retailers.

Li Zhou remains completely satisfied with his experience opening Gelatissimo in Nicholas Street.

“They’re probably the most reasonable landlords that you can have,” says Li. “We were one of the first to open in the area, and they have always been very flexible, giving us a lot of support with marketing. They assisted in delivering our grand opening with activities and face painting and that kind of thing around us to draw people in. And every time that we offer new flavours or specials, the team always assists us, using their channels to get the word out. They give us a lot of support, for which we’re very grateful!”

A place to dine, gather and work, and bursting with the possibility for new business, leasing opportunities will soon be released for food, leisure and hospitality operators to open alongside HOYTS in an ever-evolving and unrivalled city precinct.

Under the project name Venue, approximately 6000m2 of significant mixed-use retail, commercial and hospitality space will be launched to the market soon. The space will feature a bespoke pocket square for events, activations and pop-ups, character-driven design set amongst heritage façades and some of Ipswich’s key cultural destinations, and a uniquely authentic and vibrant atmosphere.

For more information about retail opportunities at Nicholas Street, visit