Residents are calling for coffee and picnic options as Wagga City Council is on the hunt for the next Botanic Gardens cafe tenant.
Council has begun seeking expressions of interest to lease the former cafe and restaurant within the gardens, which ceased operation on February 9.
Avid lover of the gardens Ruth Lennon said this is an opportunity to serve visitors.
"This is truly and honestly a gold mine for someone who can do it well," Mrs Lennon said.
"The park is filled with thousands of people, but for those wanting a coffee or some food they have to go all the way to Turvey Tops.
"It would be a big tick for a well-run, clean and properly priced eatery, and it doesn't need to be fancy."
Mrs Lennon said she has lived near the gardens for 60 years and knows what will work.
"We've never moved and I've been on this bandwagon for years; I'm a lover of the park and it's been part of our lives for years," she said.
"I'm old school and have always brought lunch to the gardens, but so many people ask where they can get food or a cup of coffee.
"Someone with the right personality is needed to encourage people to come back."
Mrs Lennon said takeout options like fish and chips as well as activities involving the children would be well received by the community.
"They used to sell, years ago, bags of bread for kids to feed the animals and it was very disappointing when they stopped that," she said.
"It's the most amazing area in Wagga, the park is beautifully run and we are just so fortunate."
Local mother Kristi Andrews said she would love to see the cafe opened and offer fresh sandwiches.
"Wagga needs somewhere that is fenced-in, like this, where the kids can run wild and the mums can sit down and talk because there is nowhere," Mrs Andrews said.
"Today we brought lunch here, but it was an effort to come here and we can't get coffee or anything.
"When the trains are on the lineups are huge and you want to come with your kids, get a coffee, walk around the zoo, then sit down and have some lunch and enjoy the grass areas.
"It's beautiful up here and there is nowhere else in Wagga you can do that," she said.
Accompanying Mrs Andrews was Tara Durbridge, who said the new tenants must offer ice cream.
"I'd love to see ice cream, the real scoop of ice cream, as well as convenient hot food and good coffee," she said.
"I brought a thermos to make our own coffees today.
"It's mainly families, especially in this area, but it'd be nice to have a cuppa and we've always had to pack our own lunch, because even the previous food wasn't great."
The building comprises of three separate areas and may be leases separately or as a whole:
- A coffee shop, with an outdoor seating area overlooking the children's playground.
- A function area, with wet bar, cool room, toilets, baby change amenities, office, staff bathroom and private courtyard.
- A kitchen, with cool room, freezer, benches, grease trap and exhaust hood.
Council director of corporate services Natalie Te Pohe said this is a unique opportunity to offer the community and users of the gardens.
"These are three flexible spaces that can be combined or separated in one of the city's most well-known recreation spots, which lends itself to some creative potential uses," Ms Te Pohe said.
"The large space that was formerly a function centre and restaurant could be used for a dance studio, fitness classes or community based activities.
"The coffee shop and kiosk overlook the children's playground and is near the entrance to the ever-popular Botanic Gardens Zoo.
"The kitchen area could be used in conjunction with either of the other spaces for catering, functions or entertainment uses either by private enterprise, a training organisation or a social enterprise," she said.
Expressions of interest close on May 31.