The basement bar we’ve all been waiting for.
First Look: Biggies at Bertram
For seven years the basement space below Bertram House has sat vacant, and when CityMag is introduced to the room not much has changed – aside from the injection of enthusiasm from Paul and Kay Crozier and their pup, Billie Jean.
There’s tape marking where the bar will go and where their records will spin, but the rest of the picture sits in Paul and Kay’s mind.
“Grungy, dark, basement,” Kay says when we enquire about the theme.
“But you can still get a nice drink. We’re going to have local beers, good wine, you know, we’ll still have a lot of nice things in the grungy setting.
“There’s enough places that we love going to – you know, Mr Goodbars, Maybe Maes – they do what they do well and there’s no point trying to tackle that. We’re trying to do something a little bit different.”
Although this is the couple’s first foray into small bars, it won’t be their first fit out.
“I was the events assistant and the events manager at Spice Market in Melbourne… then we got into hotels,” Kay says.
“I worked with Accor Hotels for five years starting back in Melbourne in Novotel St Kilda, and then got onto a management program… and spent the next five years dragging Kay around the country,” Paul explains.
The initial draw of Adelaide for Paul and Kay was the opening of Ibis Adelaide on Grenfell Street, but after the project they found an affinity for the city and decided on a sea change.
Paul wanted to get out of the “stiff and stuffy” corporate hotel environment and came on as venue manager at The Duke, while at the same time they both started toying with the idea of opening their own space.
It wasn’t long before Renew Adelaide provided the goods.
“When we first saw this space and fell in love with the space itself, the basement bar was something that we wanted to do, and then the location on top of that,” Paul explains.
“We’re actually away from the Peel and Leigh Street, so there’s not much over here, and we’re also halfway between the East End and that precinct.
“We’re kind of central to everything.”
“You go out for dinner and you go out and have a drink and then you get to that point where you’re like ‘alright, let’s do this,’ and it’s like, what’s the option then?” Kay says.
“You’ve got a club full of 18-year-olds and doof doof, or you’ve got a nice cocktail bar where if you start to get your boogie on it’s like… people are staring at you.”
“As the sun goes down and people get that liquid courage, [we] can slide a few chairs and tables out of the way, people can get up and feel comfortable to move around,” Paul says.
“It’s not the biggest space, but I think we’ve used it the best way we can.”
For now it’s only white walls and a pale concrete floor, but the promise of Barossa Valley Brewing, Prancing Pony, and Little Bang brews available in a space where “hip hop, funk, ’90s, big disco [and] ’80s” will play on vinyl is enough to get CityMag excited to descend into the Biggies basement.