12/03/2008 - 22:00

Expanding a narrow cultural view

12/03/2008 - 22:00

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Although it’s still early days, Perth is starting to develop a ‘laneway culture’ of its own, following the lead of the city widely considered to be Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne.

Expanding a narrow cultural view

Although it’s still early days, Perth is starting to develop a ‘laneway culture’ of its own, following the lead of the city widely considered to be Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne.

At the vanguard of the movement is Alda’s, which was one of the first venues to obtain a small bar licence in the CBD, and is proving popular with local professionals.

Located down the narrow Wolf Lane, which runs off Murray Street, the bar/cafe has operated in somewhat of a parallel universe to the rest of the city’s entertainment scene.

The recent art installations in Wolf Lane, supported by the organisation Form, made the bar more visible as the hundreds of white plastic flowers planted along the laneway led pedestrians to the funky spot.

The venue is currently open on weekdays only, but there are plans to open on Saturdays from 3pm until late for cruisey evenings with food and chilled out music – staying away from the general pub vibe common in many parts of the city.

“The small bar licence attracts people who think for themselves,” Alda’s manager, Tim Fraser, told Gusto.

The cafe started with a tearoom licence and had been trying to get a restaurant licence for seven months, until small bar licences were introduced in May 2007 and Alda’s owners decided to apply for one.

Six months later, Alda’s small bar licence was the second to be approved in the city, after Etro, which is located on King Street.

Alda’s owner and established fashion designer, Robert Pierucci, says he never wanted to go down the advertising path, even through the tough times the cafe faced when it opened because of its relative seclusion.

Mr Pierucci says that, when he bought the warehouse building 10 years ago with the objective of leasing out spaces opening onto the laneway to other fashion shops, people doubted his plan would succeed.

“Today I have a lot of demand for those spaces,” he says.

The venue has gradually attracted solid support from customers Mr Pierucci describes as close regulars who enjoy coming to a cafe that has a strong communal feel and gives people a sense of ownership.

Mr Fraser reckons when people bring friends to Alda’s, they bring people they’d be comfortable inviting into their own homes.

It’s a relaxed environment where people are immediately comfortable, according to Mr Fraser.

“With the small bar licence we get more people during the day, but not necessarily to drink.

People want to have the option and are after that sense of freedom they don’t feel in other places,” he says.

“A customer told me that he had been walking past our cafe for two years and never walked in until he saw the small bar licence sign on the window.

Now he keeps coming back...

for coffee.” The cafe has a popular alfresco area at the front that is packed on Friday nights.

The indoors area is simply decorated and opens onto a fashion store window at the back.

The customers are mostly people who work in the area, which includes a lot of architects, lawyers and executives.

“We thought it would be a great idea to have the Wi-Fi in the building considering the crowd we were getting, but no-one uses it.

Everyone just wants to chill out when they come here,” Mr Fraser says The coffee is Mr Fraser’s own blend – Darkstar Coffee – and breakfast, panini, and pizza are served every week days.

Alda’s is open from 7am to 5 pm Monday to Wednesday, and closes at 10pm on Thursdays and 12pm on Fridays.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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