He’s the Coast’s very own Manpower star turned nightclub owner and entertainment guru and now, local legend Billy Cross is in the business of six-star rooftop bars.
Billy has joined forces with The Star Gold Coast and Hellenika’s Simon Gloftis to bring the Gold Coast a next-level (literally) restaurant and lounge bar with sweeping city views and a sense of sophistication the likes of which our city has never seen.
We chat with Billy about what we can expect from the game changing venue and how he’s gone from King of the glitter strip to co-creator of what he calls the best rooftop bar in Australia.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve lived here for 35 years; I came up quite young so I’m a true Maroons supporter, and I’ve lived here long enough to qualify.
What are your thoughts on the Coast’s growing entertainment scene?
I suppose the thing I love most about being in the entertainment and food industries is seeing how they’ve changed. 10 years ago we had cafes and a restaurant here and there but now when you look at what we have, especially from Broadbeach to Burleigh, there are some absolutely amazing establishments. That’s the part that’s excited me most. 10 years ago you could go to one or two restaurants that were quite good but now there are so many options and so many amazing operators that have really put us on that national level.
What do you love most about living here?
Where I started and created my business was with the Manpower show – Thunder Down Under – which is in Vegas now but also travels the world. I had an opportunity to live and bring my family up in the US but I didn’t because I’ve always loved living on the Coast and everything our city offers. I then got into the nightclub and festival industries, started Summafieldayze and am now involved in events so when you look at those businesses, the Gold Coast is probably one of the best places in the world to work but there’s also a relaxed lifestyle where you can bring up a family. We also have the best beaches in the world and the hinterland, the Coast offers so much. We’re quite spoilt.
Tell us about your latest project at The Star Gold Coast, what can we expect?
It’s going to be a lounge bar, there’ll be a pool and an amazing restaurant. I think Simon and I together are just a dynamic force. In the late 90s I ran the nightclub strip in Surfers when it was powering. I got out of the industry and thought I was done but being asked by The Star to get on board with this investment was so exciting for me. What we’re going to create is not just something the Gold Coast will love but also something that will appeal to people Australia-wide and all over the world. Having a rooftop at The Star Gold Coast is going to be incredible, it’s a serious player and I think it’s going to be the best rooftop bar in Australia. It’s gotten me so excited to get back into the industry. It’ll be a place for the over 25s market to really enjoy. I’ve been involved with it now for the past two years and we’ve needed this on the Coast for a long time. We’ve got some great places but this one is going to be a six-star tower, a really classy place.
How do you think the venue will change the Gold Coast’s entertainment scene?
What it will create is a very high-end restaurant that’s going to have one of the best views on the Gold Coast. As a lounge and bar experience it will have an amazing atmosphere of pure class. You can come up and relax with a beautiful view, enjoy some amazing drinks and some cool old school music. It will have an edgy but classy feel, which I think is something we don’t really have at the moment.
How did you and Simon come up with the idea for something so extravagant?
It was collaboration of course. A big part of the design and the creation was between Simon, myself and The Star. They’ve got an amazing team of people on board and that makes our job easier. It was just everyone putting in their ideas and their two cents to see what it became. For the last five years it’s been something I’ve touched on. For those over 25, after you go to dinner, where do you go? This is going to be a place where of course the restaurant will be busy too, but it will be somewhere you can also go after dinner to have a lounge experience. I feel like this will be the place to go to dress up, enjoy drinks with your friends or partner and have a great time. The bar will be open until 3am so you can go and have a dance after dinner, which is something I think we really need here.
When will we find out the name?
The name will come out in the next couple of weeks; we’ve got a big campaign starting soon. To show people photos just doesn’t do it justice, I can’t wait for people to experience it.
You’ve done so much throughout your career, what have been the highlights?
I’m quite fortunate that I’ve had such a great career in the entertainment industry. When I built my first club, the Berlin Lounge Bar, back in the late 90s we were one of the first to bring house music to the Gold Coast so that was definitely one of the highlights. Creating Summafieldayze was a highlight because there was only Big Day Out back then. Having a diverse career in entertainment, from running a successful show in Vegas to the nightclub industry to creating one of the biggest festivals in SE QLD and now being involved in what’s going to be one of the best restaurant and lounge bars in Australia, I can’t complain. The highlights keep coming.
Any chance you might want to bring us another local music festival?
We’ve always talked about that. I’m involved with the Hangout Festival called Sand Tunes on Coolangatta Beach which will happen on December 1st and 2nd this year so that’s going to be huge. The guys that run Hangout Festival in Alabama have a great lineup so that will be quite diverse and exciting for the Gold Coast. It will have that Splendour and Falls feel and will be a great tourism push for the southern Gold Coast.
Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Do what you love and love what you do. A lot of people in this world will tell you, you can’t do something but you’ve just got to believe in yourself.
Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: We usually go down to First Ave in Broadbeach but I do love Currumbin, you can’t really beat it
Cafe: BlendLove, Goji Bar in Clear Island Waters and I definitely love Elk Espresso
Restaurant: Definitely Hellenika is my favourite
How does your weekend usually look? My weekend is usually spent with the kids who are right into their basketball at the moment. I’m quite involved in that and the Gold Coast Rollers basketball team, I love my basketball and I love my Titans aswell. I spend a lot of time at Riverstage at the moment too.