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June 9, 2016
Habits

Meet the minds behind The Propaganda Club

By upping Adelaide’s late night food game, Wendy and Petar Belosevic are helping us mature into the night.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Jessica Clark

From the very outset, it’s clear that The Propaganda Club means business.

There’s no other message you can really receive from a 350-kilo timber door stamped with an embossed enamel logo – the venue is here, and it plans to be here for quite a while.

Remarks

The Propaganda Club officially opens this Friday, 10 June from 11:30am. Find it at Regent Arcade, 110 Grenfell Street, Adelaide.

Regular service will run 4pm til 6am Tuesday to Thursday, 11:30am to 6am Fridays, and 6pm to 6am Saturdays.

In the current, ever-evolving late night venue climate, even the most solidly structured small bar can feel ethereal – as if just as swiftly as a piece of legislation was created to allow these venues, a bureaucratic change of heart could rubber stamp them all away again.

This is not the case at Propaganda.

Instead, the venue signifies a heavy investment in Adelaide’s late night life.

Having owned Zhivago from its very beginning on Light Square in 2003, Wendy Belosevic has long had a professional focus on 10pm-to-6am Adelaide, but what she personally expects from a venue is changing.

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“I’ve grown up as well and I think my venue has grown up,” Wendy says.

“I was partying [at Zhivago] for a really long time, and so were a lot of people of my age group, and we’ve all kind of grown up and we’re all looking for something a bit more sophisticated.

“Somewhere where we can eat and we can drink… and I think this is our new place that we’re all going to hang out in.”

For Wendy, and her husband Petar, who both currently co-own Zhivago and The Propaganda club, their primary focus has been on quality.

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They’ve worked with bar consultant Shaun Byrne to develop their drinks menu, and he has helped them curate the list and develop techniques so the venue can produce its own brandy, syrups, and cuvee infusions. Executive chef, James Lawrie (Windy Point Restaurant, Hill of Grace Restaurant), has structured a small plate and large plate offering to match the separate lounge, bar, and formal dining spaces; and all of this is available from the early evening until 6am, as the hotel licence they acquired with the venue allows.

“All these little bars are offering more – you know, better quality service, better quality food and drinks, and focus on those aspects,” Wendy says.

“That’s what we’re achieving with our space, but just in a larger format.”

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The intent behind providing this level of service late into the night is also tactical. As much as it’s about providing a comfortable venue for small bar-goers looking at continuing their night beyond 2am, there is an attitude shift Wendy and Petar are keen to support.

“It’s about taking the stigma away from late night being associated with some negative connotations. That’s what we’d really like to see,” says Petar.

“‘Propaganda is tongue-in-cheek as well, because [of] the political world that feeds off that [stigma] and has no real interest in it, or has never been anywhere beyond 3am in the last 20 years.

“Working closely with the Consumer and Business Services, the Liquor Licensing Commission, SAPOL, we’ve been able to be agreeable that a venue like this is a safe environment, that we can provide a high quality offering, and it won’t compromise the late night code of practice.

“It’s an initiative that they could support, and they have supported, because they’ve allowed the approval of the new venue, so we’re thankful for that.”

With the staff fully trained, the kitchen prepped, the bar stocked, and everyone well versed after the soft launch last week, The Propaganda Club is prepared to be embraced by late night Adelaide, giving a whole new feel to 3am dining.

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