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March 9, 2022

Society wants to be a bar for literally everybody

The latest hospitality venture to open at the former Bar Mallozzi and Mum Cha site is a bar with a “crowd-pleasing" food and drink menu with a primary focus on providing patrons with a “good time".

  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Tyler Marsland

A week or so before the Adelaide Fringe proliferated throughout the CBD, a new bar launched at 279 Rundle Street.

This space has been a lot of things in recent history.


279 Rundle Street, Adelaide 5000
Wed—Sun: 5pm ’til late


In 2017, it was Iberia, a restaurant and bar drawing on culinary references of the Iberian Peninsula. In 2018, it was taken over by reality TV celebrity Jock Zonfrillo and relaunched as Bar Mallozzi. A year after that, just before the pandemic, the team behind Mother Vine brought dumpling restaurant Mum Cha to the space.

Mum Cha stood stoic against the economic toil of the virus up until last month, when its founders opted to break lease rather than soldier on in an Omicron-stricken city.

The site’s landlord, the Maras Group, had met with Alex Huddleston and Josh Kleeman during the course of finding a tenant for Two Pot Screamer – another former Jock Zonfrillo site, two doors down – and offered the duo the remainder of the lease.

They were ecstatic at the opportunity and took over the space in mid-January. A month later, Alex and Josh launched their first hospitality venture as owners: Society.

Alex tells CityMag, with a smile, he’s heard rumours of a ghost at the bar, but he seems unperturbed by CityMag’s half-joking suggestion of a curse hanging over 279 Rundle.

Society will break the bad luck of the space’s last few operators, he says, because they’re opting for a different experience.

“Mum Cha, I think, came in at just a bad time. It was the very start of COVID and they got the worst of it,” Alex says.

“[But] they’re very different operations to us – Iberia, Mallozzi and Mum Cha all operated as a restaurant, rather than a bar… We think we’re mixing it up a bit by making it a bar, rather than a restaurant. And we think that’s probably going to play in our favour.”


Society makes use of the venue’s three levels, from the basement bar to the four-ish-feet-off-ground mezzanine floor.

The drinks menu features three pages of cocktails (21 in total, all either $18 or $20) and the beer, wine and spirits selection is predominantly South Australian.

All the beers hover around $10 a pour, with names such as Mismatch, Bridge Road, Moon Dog, Pirate Life, Uraidla Brewery and Little Creatures.

Wines by the glass are in a similar price range. Bottle prices are mostly between $40 and $75, with a couple of exceptions (Pol Roger for $105, for example).

The wine labels on offer include Alpha Box & Dice, Big Easy Radio, Wirra Wirra, Shaw & Smith and Down the Rabbit Hole.

Though Alex hopes for Society to be seen mostly as a bar, there is a food offering. The upper level features an open kitchen, which is under the stewardship of co-head chefs Ethan Calvert and Steve Patmore.

The chefs have worked almost exclusively side by side since their apprenticeship and come to this project from Saturno pub Mick O’Shea’s in Hackham, where Josh also previously worked.

Society’s culinary direction, as Alex explains it, is Modern Australian – the catch-all category that can be read as “a small selection of everything”.

“We’ve decided to go Modern Australian because Australia is such a multicultural place, so it gives you a little bit of everything,” Alex says.

“You’ve got things like your pork belly, but then we’ve got ceviche, but we’ve also got duck spring rolls, you’ve got anchovies on toast, you’ve got market tomatoes.

“It’s very crowd-pleasing, but there’s enough options where if you want to eat meat, there’s meat, if you want to eat fish, there’s fish. If you want vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, we’ve got a couple of options for everything.”

The menu has been designed to be shared, and the dishes are priced (for the most part) south of $25.



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Price point was an important consideration for Alex, who sees that the East End needs more approachable venues.

“We didn’t have anything that fitted into that category that covered a large amount of things, so we just tried to get an idea that catered to everybody, essentially,” he says.

Alex comes into this project without a hospitality background. He worked in the disability industry for six years and was a support coordinator for the NDIS. He says he “didn’t like the culture”.

“It’s very money-driven, rather than people-driven, which didn’t sit very well with me, to be honest,” Alex says.

In hospitality, he felt he could service the social side of his personality – and this is the cultural undercurrent of Society. It is a bar, Alex hopes, for all.

“We really just want people to have a good time,” Alex says.

“Honestly, we’re pretty friendly people, all of our staff are friendly people, and we want to be the kind of people that people feel like they can come up and interact with us.

“Koby [Gelven] is our cocktail guy, so they can go up and have a chat to Koby about how he’s making all of his cocktails and whatnot. He worked a little bit at Therapy, so he’s got a bit of knowledge about that.

“We’ve got the completely open kitchen – we want people to be able to come up and have a chat to the chefs and ask them what they’re doing, things like that.”

Go say hi to Koby


The concept behind Society is to be as broadly appealing as possible. This, in most instances, is considered a folly – to design anything for the average person is to design, very precisely, for no one in particular.

But Alex and his team are using this hyperactive time of year to welcome as many people as they can into Society, and their particular brand of crowd-pleasing is likely to win some fans.

“We want people to enjoy themselves, not have to feel that they’re held to any kinds of standards because they’re in the East End or anything,” Alex says.

“If they want to just drink and carry on a little bit, they’re allowed to do that. There’s no problems with that.”

Society is located at 279 Rundle Street and operates from Wednesday to Sunday, 5pm ‘til late.

Connect with the business on Facebook and Instagram.

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