While other suburbs in Adelaide complain they cannot access the city's 'small bar licence', Ollie Margan and the Maybe Mae tribe have opened just that – perched atop Melt at Henley.
Small bar West opens above Melt Henley
A glasshouse perched atop a beach shack in the heart of Henley Square, the small bar – West – is going to change this city’s expectations for seaside revelry.
269 Seaview Rd,
Henley Beach SA 5022
Modern Tiki bar open above Melt Henley from Thursday, September 6th 2018
Open 7 days (Sun from 10AM!)
Follow them on Instagram.
For the past year Ollie Margan, managing partner of Maybe Mae, the basement speakeasy bar on Peel Street has been living above ground, walking the sand-swept sidewalks of Henley, trying to get a feel for the place.
“I’m a partner in six of the group’s venues,” says Ollie, shoving his hands in his pockets and looking down at the just-laid bluestone slate underfoot. West is Ollie’s latest venture with Simon Kardachi’s hospitality group – which owns and operates some of this city’s finest food and beverage offerings.
Ollie is humble but at just 26 years of age the man is hitting his stride and ready to push drinks back into the spotlight across the board.
“Maybe Mae takes its drinks very seriously and our new cocktail list and approach there will really drive this home but we wanted West to be much more laid back,” says Ollie.
“The most important thing for us and this project is that it rings true to people who live here [Henley]. If we’re going to survive winters, we’re going to have to launch with an offering that makes sense down here.”
Modern Tiki is the tagline.
Think big and colourful and fun drinks in a fit out that revolves around a beautiful, centrally-positioned, walnut timber bar in a space with plentiful seating (booths – many, many booths) and a terrace that flows seamlessly between indoor and outdoor spaces via floor-to-ceiling bi-fold doors.
Jameson Gregg, of The Lion Hotel lineage, will be heading up the roster of drinksmiths at West along with Udaberri alumni Laura Heddle, and Ollie says the team’s focus in the first place will be on service.
“The drinks we’ll be doing down here aren’t complicated, they’re not technical – they’re delicious. Keeping things easy in that sense allows us to focus on customer service, that sort of informal and approachable manner, which helps customers understand what’s going on and what’s good,” says Ollie.
West will no doubt mix things up for the beachside suburb.
Downstairs, Melt did 1,000 covers on the first day it opened. Ollie is still quietly reeling from that experience and, while wanting the bar to be successful from the outset, is going to avoid swamping West with patrons at the beginning.
“We’ll keep the capacity at around 70,” says Ollie. “There’ll be seats for 70 and I think we will really be focusing on that first impression. Jameson has been down here for the past six months working at Melt, getting a feel for the place and for the style of service we need to meet West’s customers with, because we hope the majority of them will be Henley locals,” says Ollie.
The bar will work in complete compliment with Melt pizzeria downstairs. Guests will be able to have a drink before dinner or – in the much more likely scenario of a 70-person-capacity bar – grab a pizza from Melt while they wait for a seat to become available upstairs.
West will trade seven days from afternoon until late in the evening during the week and from 12 midday on the weekends. Ollie is keen to get a good food option for Sundays too, as he could see some lazy brunch and Bloody Marys becoming a thing for the bar.
“I think we are going to have an impact when we open,” says Ollie.
We’re standing on the outside part of West’s terrace, overlooking the buildings of Henley Square. The surf is up and the sun is setting. Beautiful bronze-coloured light is painted across everything in sight. Our guess is this bar will be packed from the moment it opens until the minute it closes each night. But Ollie is humble about West’s prospects.
“I’m just excited to give our local community another quality establishment, and hopefully it’s something they haven’t experienced down here ever before.”