Business chamber remains optimistic about town's future

THE Murwillumbah and District Business Chamber says there is plenty of optimism for the future of the town after operators of a closed burger joint claimed high rent prices were forcing business owners to shut up shop.

Popular burger joint the Murwillumbah Burger Bar closed last week after just over a year of operation, citing high rent prices and overheads.

"Sadly it's not viable to keep going," former Burger Bar owner Justina Curtis said.

"Every shopkeeper will tell you the rent is very high for a small country town, and after not paying ourselves for more than a year we just have to draw the line and move on."

Ms Curtis said Murwillumbah had a real problem with employment opportunities and shopfronts in the main street were about "a quarter empty".

But in a statement from the Murwillumbah Business Chamber, vice-president Eva Heath said retail vacancy was "hovering around 15 per cent" and the chamber remained "optimistic about our region's future".

"We share in the disappointment of the closing of The Murwillumbah Burger Bar," Ms Heath said.

"This was a place where families enjoyed many of Justina and Scott's delicious burgers, and we applaud the response on social media calling for residents to shop local and celebrate the great businesses in our town.

"(The chamber) also feels it is vitally important that success stories are recognised as well as the difficulties. For every business that closes, there are others that have traded successfully for decades."

The statement said an inquiry to Ray White Commercial had revealed retail vacancy in the town was about 15 per cent, not the 25 per cent claimed by Ms Curtis.

"Murwillumbah is a regional hub coming alive with a host of eclectic shops and a great foodie culture," Ms Heath said.

"There is a renewed sense of pride in Murwillumbah, and South Murwillumbah is being rejuvenated with speciality and creative shops, and this rejuvenation is extending out to the villages of Uki, Tyalgum and Burringbar."

The statement said reasons for optimism included the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek rail trial and other new walking trails which would bring "a new demographic of traveller and visitor to our region".

"In addition, the council has funded a heritage grants program to assist shop owners to enhance their facades, which will serve to highlight the unique architecture of the town centre," Ms Heath said.

"(The chamber) invites all business owners in the shire to attend our monthly meetings. They are an excellent way to meet with council representatives and other local business owners to discuss difficulties and share tips for success".