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May 21, 2024

Ballet wine bar steps into beachside hotspot

Jetty Road will soon host a European-inspired wine bar run by locals and aimed at an older clientele.

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  • Words and pictures: Claudia Dichiera

Mel Phiriyathorn and Mike Papatolis are Glenelg locals. Mike has previously owned bars along Jetty Road and Mel has always worked in the 5045 area, currently managing POLK.


29 Jetty Road, Glenelg 5045

Opening mid-June


“People always say that once someone moves anywhere from SA to Glenelg, then they’ll always live in Glenelg,” Mike says.

When it came to opening up their own bar, Ballet, the locale was a no-brainer.

“We’ve both always been local. We’ve never worked outside of Glenelg,” Mike says.

“That’s how we knew each other too, just by being like local businesses near each other and just had a lot of respect for how we both ran the businesses,” Mel adds.

The duo add that this understanding of the beachside suburb comes with its perks.

“I think it gives us a good understanding of the culture of Glenelg, versus a different suburb, versus the city. You can really distinguish it, and I think being Glenelg locals, we know what locals like and we know a lot of the locals ourselves, too,” Mel says.

She adds that their regular customers include school parents, families and “older people who’ve been in Glenelg their whole life”.

Inside the private dining space


However a newer, younger era of Glenelg goers has emerged within the last few years, and Mel and Mike acknowledge this. They want Ballet to cater to these people as well as the older demographic.

“[Ballet] came about because I’m doing a rooftop bar and a restaurant above the hotel development here. It’s taking its time but it’s slowly getting there now,” Mike laughs.

“Then the Bracegirdle’s shop was sitting dormant. So I spoke to the landlord, who’s doing the development as well, and just said Glenelg doesn’t have anywhere that lends itself to that more mature clientele.”

Mike says that while “Glenelg caters for everyone”, “the scene down here on weekends is a lot more of a younger crowd”.

“You’ve got Terra & Sol, [The] Mosley, they take that younger, vodka sodas, seltzers, DJ music crowd,” Mike says.

“And what that hotel is going to attract, being a higher-end hotel, is the more affluent tourist with people that want to come and spend a nice weekend down here, have a bit more money, but want the finer dining.”

Part of the upstairs vibe


Mike thinks the opening of Ballet in mid-June will help the Glenelg precinct as a whole.

“It was all well and good having the rooftop bar, but then after [tourists] have gone there for the first night, second night, then we’ll lose them. They’ll get on the tram and go to the city,” Mike says.

“And then Glenelg and the street — the whole precinct missing out on that tourism.

“So if we can start up another venue that caters for a more mature audience, then at least we’re keeping them in the precinct and hopefully encourages more venues to come down to Glenelg.

“I think Glenelg is in for a bit of a boom so hopefully… make it a bit of a destination.”

To cater to this mature crowd, Mel and Mike have opted for a wine bar with European influences.

“I think this space lends itself really well to a slightly more old-school kind of feel. We’ve kept the original floors, there’s exposed brick out the front, and it just really suited a European-style wine bar,” Mel says.

Designed by SMFA and fitted out by Elite Building Co, the interiors are oranges, beiges and terracotta, with a multilevel dining experience in the old Bracegirdle’s space.



The duo walk CityMag through the entire venue which features a wine wall — empty now but soon to host many bottles — a private dining area, an upstairs bar with couches, two old fireplaces and a balcony.

“We definitely had the floors like re-done and polished,” Mel laughs. “The two walls [upstairs] have been knocked down just to make the space look more vibrant and bigger and more cohesive too.

“If we were to do events we’d actually be able to have everyone in the same room.”

“They redid the front of the building. So they lowered the windows to let a bit more natural light,” Mike continues.

“The windows downstairs are actually sash too so you can sit in those booths, push the curtains across and open up and sit onto the street.”

One thing Mel and Mike knew before committing to a new venue, was that “[they] didn’t want to be a restaurant”.

“When Mike said that, that was really the selling point for me because we’d both come from restaurants,” Mel says.

“So it was nice to do just a bar that serves food and having a smaller tapas style menu really suits us wanting to be more of a one predominant place.”

Though the food and wine lists are in the drafting stage, Mel and Mike want to include local and international drops, traditional cocktails, and a seasonal snack menu — which will complement the alcohol, notably not the other way around.

Ballet is located at 29 Jetty Road, Glenelg and is slated to open in mid-June.

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