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Cover: Simon Taylor
(Cover shot on location at
The Clock, Surry Hills)
SALES – LIQUOR &
Shane T Williams
The Intermedia Group
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CAB YEARLY AUDIT
30TH SEPTEMBER 2015.
What makes a
great bar, well,
great? And more
importantly, what makes a
great bar successful? It was
the question we put to our
very first round table and
they ran with it in a typically
verbose manner – one thing
about the bar industry, you
guys are never short on an
opinion about anything.
And apart from a bunch of
unprintable expletives, a few
“oh my god don’t print that”
moments” and more than
a little bit of good-natured
ribbing between friends, there was a lot of great advice about
what makes a great bar – from the intangible to the tangible.
These are a few of my favourite (printable) parts that we
couldn’t quite jam into the feature:
BARS THAT ARE INSPIRATIONAL
Michael Nouri: I think what the guys at Bulletin Place did to
start off that simplification of the bar was really important and
it was great. It came at an important time where so many bars
were going overboard. They just brought it right back down to
a core essence.
Russ McFadden: I think the stuff that Jonathan Downey has
been doing for 15 years since the late 90s, it is pretty de rigour
now, you see it in a lot of bars, like what Swillhouse is doing –
the quality of the service and the staff.
Toby Hilton: Fit out-wise I really like Callooh Calley, what they
did when they first set out was really cool in what is a really
awkward space. Locally I still love Lobo Plantation for that
instant feeling you get when you walk in and you walk down
Jeremy Shipley: I’m lucky I get to go to northern California a
bit, and they have venues with long bars and all the produce
from the local area is out on top of it and that is where the
guys pick everything. I think it’s really nice that things aren’t
clean and neat and regimented.
Emily Lloyd-Tait: For sheer moxie – Bar Americano. Who looked
at that space and went “this is a good idea, definitely keep
doing this”? It’s astonishing that some people have that vision
to see a space and go “I can put the bar in here” before they
take it on, and it does actually work.
ON KEEPING YOUR BAR LIVELY
Russ McFadden: It’s one of the most awful sentences to hear:
“are you open?”
Toby Hilton: You know something is wrong.
Michael Nouri: All you hear is the juicer running in the
background. *makes juicer noises*
ON TAKING BAR THEMES TO THE EXTREME
Toby Hilton: Stick to it, even though while you’re doing it
you’re thinking “what are we doing? People are going to laugh
at this”. When we were building Frankie’s I was like “what
are we doing?” But then it made sense. Because the boys
stuck to it and now when you peek in through the doors and
there are 400 people swinging off the rafters you’re like: that
ON MENU HUBRIS
Michael Nouri: The menu was way too wordy – everything had
a touch of apricot or a hint of angel’s tears. And I don’t mean to
offend anyone but if I see the word “umami” on another menu,
I’m probably going to lose my shit. Explain that to me exactly
– what exactly are you throwing in there to make it “umami”?
– and really make me feel it because I’m like, goddam bro, your
ego is too much.
A MEDITATION ON DOOR STAFF
Jeremy Shipley: It’s hospitably 101. You’re going to hate a
place if they piss you off at the door already. That policy is
Michael Nouri: I think I was only ever let into Hugo’s once.
There’s that pyramid of stairs and there’s the queen at the top.
And you know they’re looking down upon you.
Toby Hilton: They’ve clocked you 20 stairs down and just
Michael Nouri: The security guard has seen you from around the
corner, I’m dressed to the nines and feeling there is no way that
I’m not succeeding tonight. And then some dude with a pair
of torn shorts and a singlet walks straight up the stairs and I’m
standing there and they’re like “sorry mate private function”.
On a final note, enjoy your Christmas period. It’s always crazy
and busy and over the top but then there is the respite of
January – see you then.
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