By Sacha Delfosse

Grasshopper co-founder, Martin O'Sullivan, has responded to the Greens’ City of Sydney Councillor, Chris Harris’ criticism of the council’s Finegrain Business Development Matching Grant Program.

Although O’Sullivan welcomes debate on the issues raised by Councillor Harris, he points out that Grasshopper received a council grant not because of the type of business it is, but because of the location it chose to open in.

“I think it’s good that Chris is voicing his opinion, and it’s fine if he has some opposition, it creates debate. But he needs to realize it’s not about small bars getting grants it’s a laneways grant, it applies to any business.”

“I think Chris needs to remember the grants are not just for small bars, it is a laneways driven grant system, which is made available to any business opening in laneways, and the three or four small bars that received the grants are the ones that have opened in laneways,” O’Sullivan said.

In addition to opening in a laneway, Grasshopper also had to provide the council with a great deal of detail and due diligence, submitting a proposal that was more than 100 pages long.

O’Sullivan refutes the Councillor’s estimate that Grasshopper’s fit out cost would have been around $250,000, and that a $30,000 grant would not have made much difference to whether the bar opened or not.

“The figure he quoted in relation to what he thinks we would have spent on the fit out is quite large and he is just speculating, but even if the grant we received covered only 5 percent or 10 percent of the costs involved in opening the bar, the money still helped us,” he explained.

“If I didn’t get the $30,000 we wouldn’t have opened, we wouldn’t have won best Small Business of the Year and the Best Small Bar awards at last years City of Sydney Business Awards. It would have bee a lot easier to open in the main drag without the grant but then we wouldn’t have been able to reinvigorate the laneways.”

O’Sullivan also points out that many small bars chose to use a great deal of recycled and second hand furniture and equipment in their venues, due both to budget limitations and also personal operating ideals, many of which are similar to the Greens policies.

“The small bar industry is very aligned to the Greens ideas, we support similar ideas to them, we chose to use recycled furniture, recycled glassware, recycled kitchen equipment, organic wines and food,” O’Sullivan said.

The Shout Team

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