PUSHED OUT: Zeke Rowland, co-owner of Factory The Project nightclub, says the Helm Bar is using its buying power to win back customers.
PUSHED OUT: Zeke Rowland, co-owner of Factory The Project nightclub, says the Helm Bar is using its buying power to win back customers. Iain Curry

Two Coast nightclubs at war over drink discount

IT'S not quite a disco inferno, but things are heating up as two of the Coast's biggest nightclubs lock horns over discounted drinks.

Speaking to the Daily yesterday, Zeke Rowland, the co-owner of Factory The Project nightclub at Maroochydore, said the fledgling club was hurting as it struggled to compete with the power of The Helm at Mooloolaba's Wharf Tavern.

"We're getting pushed out of the market," Mr Rowland said.

"When we opened we took a lot of their market share and they've acted really aggressively to get that share back."

Mr Rowland said he believed The Helm, backed by supermarket chain Woolworths as part of the Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH) Group, was using its buying power to offer discounted alcohol to lure back customers.

"The Helm is doing $3 drinks seven days a week," Mr Rowland said.

However, the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation confirmed a licensee was well within its rights to offer cheap drinks, as long as the advertising of such offers fell within OLGR guidelines.

ALH Group spokesman David Curry refused to comment about The Factory.

He pointed out that the Wharf Tavern had operated for more than a decade in a highly competitive market, while The Factory was a relative newcomer.

"We've had the pub for over a decade, it's a competitive market out there," Mr Curry said.

"It's a tough environment. We try to cater to our patrons and we do that across our food and our beverage range.

"All of our staff are trained in Responsible Service of Alcohol and enforce that when needed."

The ALH Group currently operates about 13 venues on the Coast, employing "hundreds" of locals.

Meanwhile, the OLGR spokesman confirmed both venues were the subject of routine investigations.

"The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation currently has a number of routine investigations under way in relation to the Wharf Tavern Mooloolaba and the Factory Nightclub Maroochydore," the spokesman said.

"As investigations are ongoing, no further details can be provided at this stage."

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