How do you know when to call last drinks – for good?

Canvas, Brisbane - blends art with cocktails.

Raising a glass to Canvas

By Bonnie Shearston
Bonnie moved to Brisbane from London in 2008. Approaches everything hospitality with a sense of fun, creativity and innovation. Co-owns Public in Brisbane.

(Australian Bartender broke the news about Canvas changing hands and you can read about it here.)

“Why is it now, that after only three short years, I find myself writing about moving on and leaving Canvas behind?”

An hour before opening, the back bar was still lying on the floor waiting to be hoisted onto the wall and be laden with a wonderful array of potent elixirs. As our guests started to arrive we couldn’t believe that we had pulled everything together just in the nick of time. Six months of the most incredibly intense mental and physical work had led to this moment. We were unveiling our very first venture to our nearest and dearest. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

Why is it now, that after only three short years, I find myself writing about moving on and leaving Canvas behind? After just three years of great success within the Australian bar scene we have decided to sell Canvas. With Public going from strength to strength and new opportunities in sight for both couples, we have all decided it is time to let go and focus on things to come.


This decision was far from easy. In fact, I was completely opposed to the idea Tom suggested it to me. I had grown so attached to this tiny little bar that the thought of leaving it behind broke my heart. Tom was quite adamant that it was time to say goodbye and he did, in hindsight, have a very strong argument.

I’m fairly certain that I do not speak for myself when I say that there are several goals you hope to achieve when you open your own venue; that you are proud of the product and service you have on offer, that you feel you are giving something new and innovative to the industry, that you go to work every day with a spring in your step even though you will work harder than you have ever done before, and, let’s be honest, that at the end of a shift you can leave knowing that your wallet may look a little bit healthier come the end of each week.

To this day we are incredibly proud and grateful to all our staff, past and present, the service they have offered and the products they have provided for our customers. There has been an enormous amount of time and energy invested into ensuring they know the tools of their trade to an exceptional standard. When it comes to going to work every day with a spring in our step, we unfortunately fall short. After time, when disagreements in the direction of which you wish to take the business emerge, it is difficult to keep pushing the business forward with the passion and drive you once had. This in turn then has a domino effect on the profitability of your business, and for us it was then that we thought we needed to step back and look at what we needed to do moving forward.

I suppose everyone prioritises the outcomes of a business differently. For some it is ownership, for some it’s awards, for some it’s money and for others it’s the bigger picture.

Canvas has been a stepping stone for us; it has been an incredible journey. As a team we have taken it from a rundown empty shell to one of the most awarded bars in Queensland. However, there does come a point in time where you need to realise that a business has done all it can for you, as you have most likely done for it.

I would not change anything about the past three years. It has been an incredible learning curve, but I now know the importance of not becoming too attached and knowing when to let go. We are sad to say goodbye to Canvas but extremely happy with the new owners and think they will do a really great job of continuing on its legacy.

So as you are reading this article I am raising a glass to the memory of Canvas and exciting times ahead.

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