With the outlook for the small bar sector becoming more positive, hospitality entrepreneur Andy Freeman has embarked on a $2 million Moroccan-themed venue in Perth’s east end.
The entrepreneur behind Varnish on King, Caballitos, and The Flour Factory has launched a new venture with the opening of a new bar in Perth’s redeveloped east end.
The $2 million, Moroccan-themed Hadiqa rooftop bar is located at BGC’s recently completed Hibernian Place precinct, located on the corner of Hay and Irwin streets in the CBD.
The venue is owned by the founder of hospitality business Sneakers and Jeans, Andy Freeman.
“I just try and find holes in the market,” Mr Freeman told Business News.
“Hadiqa, the word in Arabic means garden … (the bar) is essentially trying to be a Moroccan-inspired rooftop supper club, bar, beach club.
“No-one (in Perth) had done it.”
Mr Freeman said he had taken a similar approach with the other venues in his portfolio.
“Varnish was built because it was somewhere I wanted to go, the same with The Flour Factory, Caballitos,” he said.
“Somewhere I’d like to go with friends and family, something that’s different, somewhere that adds and complements the city.”
Caballitos is a Mexican-themed operation in a basement on Queen Street, while Varnish on King is positioned as a celebration of American whiskey.
Flour Factory and its rooftop bar, The Sherry, and near-neighbour 26 Queen Street are also in the Sneakers portfolio.
Other notable venues Mr Freeman has operated include Luxe Bar in Mount Lawley and Darlings Supper Club in Northbridge.
At least one more is planned for later this year.
For this project, he’ll be going without business partners.
“Every business is a different example of how I’ve done it to get to this point,” Mr Freeman said.
“I’m 42 at the moment, I’ve been doing this about 20 years now.
“I just love the industry, I got bitten by it; I’ve never looked back.”
Mr Freeman said BGC approached him a few years ago about setting up at Hibernian Place, a precinct that includes the Westin Hotel.
“It (was) a very intense eight-week build to be open at the (start of May),” he said.
The bar’s decor features a significant level of greenery, including hanging from the roof, and distinctly Middle Eastern-themed patterns.
The food draws inspiration from the Middle East and Mediterranean, with the kitchen headed up by executive chef Danny Sanchez, who has worked the Sneakers portfolio of venues.
Mr Freeman said the number of new hospitality ventures launched in Perth in recent years was ahead of consumer demand, considering the economic travails the state had endured, but he remained confident about the direction of the industry.
“The general spirit is a lot better, a lot more positive,” he said.
“Things are a lot better, people are out again.
“We’ve got the stadium, Elizabeth Quay, Yagan Square, there’s been a lot of development, exciting things launched in the past six to 12 months.
“Tourism is probably our (Perth hospitality) Achilles Heel at the moment.
“That’s the area that has the bigger dollar value when they’re here.
“If they go out on a Monday it’s not a Monday for a tourist, it’s still a Saturday night; they’re going to go out and they’re going to eat and drink.
‘That’s probably where I’d like to see the most improvement.”
The tight economic conditions in WA had meant there was pressure on hospitality businesses not to increase prices.
Sneakers had grown in the past couple of years despite the market challenges, Mr Freeman said, which was a testament to the way his team had worked.
“You’ve got to constantly evolve and your business model has to adjust, that’s the secret to success,” he said.
“We’ve got a pretty good network of guys, other industry chaps, we share a lot of intel.
“Nowdays, the industry is more open to helping one another … a lot of young guys that do band together and make sure that each other is okay.
“As a collective, that’s a nice sounding board.”
Hadiqa is one of five hospitality venues at Hibernian Place, with a Melbourne-based burger brand Huxtaburger, Italian restaurant Garum (owned by chef Guy Grossi), coffee bar Offshoot, and Arthur & Co, themed as a restaurant serving indigenous cuisine the others.