27/03/2019 - 09:48

Freo.Social brews festival feel

27/03/2019 - 09:48

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New Fremantle venue Freo.Social is drawing on the founders’ experience with music festivals and outdoor cinema.

Freo.Social brews festival feel
Al Taylor says the Triple-1-Three team has drawn on its roots to make Freo.Social a social experience. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

New Fremantle venue Freo.Social is drawing on the founders’ experience with music festivals and outdoor cinema.

The old Fly By Night Club in Fremantle has been given a dramatic overhaul, launching last week as microbrewery, bar, and food and entertainment venue Freo.Social.

It is the latest undertaking of hospitality and brewing business Triple-1-Three, established by former Sunset Events directors David Chitty and James Legge.

Sunset Events achieved significant success in Western Australia over the years, with ventures including the Southbound Festival in Busselton, West Coast Blues and Roots Festival in Fremantle, and Kings Park-based Sunset Cinemas.

The 13-year run of the Southbound Festival ended in 2017 after it was hit by poor ticket sales and financial issues, with Sunset Events ceasing to operate not long after, something Mr Chitty has been reluctant to discuss.

New chief executive Al Taylor is happy to talk about lessons learned, however, telling Business News the cinema was one endeavour that changed the Perth landscape.

“Sunset Cinemas is a great example from around 15 years ago,” Mr Taylor said.

“Dave had this idea about making movies a more social experience, putting it in a good location with drinks and music, and it becomes more than just the movie.

“Then with festivals, particularly if you look at the high point of Southbound, that wasn’t just an old-school festival with a band in a paddock, it was a three-day immersive lifestyle experience.

“Dave and James are really good at layering these other ideas into things that are traditional experiences.

“In terms of our capabilities as a business, that’s what we can do.

“Freo.Social is a physical manifestation of what we want to do as an organisation, and that is to create experiences through which people connect.”

Alongside Triple-1-Three’s Myaree brewery, Mr Taylor said the Fremantle venue would act as an outlet for the company’s craft beer distribution, which has proved to be Triple-1-Three’s largest revenue stream thus far.

Freo.Social was primarily intended to be a social hub, Mr Taylor said, with the space featuring a bar and microbrewery, Triple-1-Three-owned Nomads food trucks, and a revitalised performance area in the historic Artillery Drill Hall.

“If you look at the DNA of where Dave and James have come from, they’ve always been about creating experiences,” he said.

"I think great businesses are very aware of their DNA, and they're able to use that capability."

Mr Taylor has been involved with Freo.Social throughout its establishment, initially as an investor.

He said he had been attracted by the founders’ ideas of moving into fixed venue, festival-type experiences.

Renovating and launching the new venue has not been without its difficulties, with speculation surrounding the launch date since Sunset won the tender in 2014, and an original plan to open in December 2018.

“At one point we were hoping to open before Christmas, but it was really about making sure it was ready,” Mr Taylor said.

“The brewhouse [in Myaree] was going really well and proving to be good in a research sense for what we were planning to do at Freo.Social.

“We were going to open in two stages, but we decided not to.

“There was a lot of expectation, and if you don’t do a good job, the audience is not terribly forgiving.”

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