Council seeks new operator for The Meeting Place

Published on Monday, 24 October 2022 at 2:12:00 PM

Katherine Town Council is looking for a new operator to take the reins of The Meeting Place café at Town Square in early 2023.

Gillian Russell has operated The Meeting Place café/kiosk since July 2021 and will finish her tenure at the end of the year.

“Gillian has done a great job and made the most of the opportunity,” Katherine Mayor Lis Clark said. “She demonstrated that The Meeting Place is a vibrant and viable business to take on and we are excited to see what direction the next operator takes it in.”

Russell has advised Council that her operational model worked extremely well and popular items have been the juice bar, fresh scones, donuts and salads.

Russell ran the café to cater to the tourism peak season and school hours. As the kiosk is a vital part of activating the Town Square, Russell operated on Friday nights as a licenced venue, from 5pm to 9pm, plus evenings when events were held at Town Square.

Katherine Town Square is an example of modern architectural design having been finished in 2020 and includes a tree shade canopy, mister cooling system, state of the art audio/visual infrastructure, and a toilet block on the adjacent Railway Terrace Parkland.

“The Meeting Place café is a wonderful place for the community and tourists alike to gather,” Mayor Clark said.

This opportunity is a lease of one year plus one year. As per Council's Leasing Policy, the Expression of Interest (EOI) for this is open to applicants for a period of four weeks. Applicants are invited to share their vision of the future of The Meeting Place. This EOI is ongoing until a suitable applicant is found.

Click here for more information.

Questions regarding the EOI should be directed to Casey Anderson, Acting Director of Community Services, at


Insight from current operators Gill Russell and Sally Dalglish:

The Meeting Place café has turned out to be a favourite for both for tourists and locals and now the opportunity is available for someone to take on the space and make it their own.

“People love it, they think it is a really good space and the southerners think it is very trendy,” operator Gill Russell said.

“People prefer the outdoor ambience of it, I think that is a drawcard,” co-operator Sally Dalglish said

Gill and Sally took on the business in August last year. As mums, they have made it work with school hours opening at 10am and closing at 4pm. Being open for the after-school period has been beneficial as parents bring kids for an ice-cream treat when other places are closed.

The business partners are now choosing to move on to have school holidays free to spend with their kids.

“It’s for family reasons,” Gill said. “We’ve enjoyed it”

The Town Square was opened in December 2020. The design opted for trees, which once fully grown will provide a natural canopy of shade. Until then, the kiosk has umbrellas, cooling misters, and gets a great view of the sunset in the evenings.

Gill and Sally also opened the café on Friday nights, operating with a liquor license. The outdoor location with the sunset, festoon lights, CBD location and modern architecture gives it a welcoming vibe and the café often opened in collaboration with events held at the Town Square such as the recent Big Rivers brand reveal on the big projector screen and Council’s Youth Concert in April.

Gill and Sally have built the café up to be known for its fresh salads, juices, scones and donuts.

“We’re not complicated,” Gill said. “We make it that morning and serve it that day. It’s all fresh.”

Some challenges in operating the café are the weather as it is an outdoor spot. Items need to be stored at night and while Council maintains the square, Gill and Sally do spend time ensuring the space is litter-free and attractive to patrons.

The café is a small space that is easy to manage for the right operators.

“It would be really lovely if someone could pick it up,” Gill said. “It has potential.”

Originally published 4/10/22. Updated 25/10/22.

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