Sydney is set to see a new CBD rooftop bar when Old Mate’s Place opens early next year, and it’s coming from some of Sydney’s best bar talent.
The ownership trio of Gabrielle and Andres Walters and Daniel Noble hold some top-flight hospo pedigree: you may know Andres from his work at The Lobo Plantation and Kittyhawk, and from their barware supply company, BarGeek; and Daniel Noble currently spends his time as part of the team at Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern that was awarded the title of Bar Team of the Year.
Now they’re set to offer the CBD a rooftop spot for some fine afternoon and evening drinking.
“We’ve got a rooftop and the level below it as well,” Walters says about the venue.
Old Mate’s Place will be “set out as an old library on the downstairs level, and have that old library overgrown with plants,” Walters says.
“It’s got an amazing, super high ceiling in it, and we’ve been able to figure out that we can put a mezzanine level in it so that it looks down over the bar and along the venue.
“The idea is to have this huge wall of books, like a library, and like it’s been abandoned and there’s plants growing down over it. Exposed wooden beams, then a staircase up to the rooftop where’ll be able to fit about 30-40 people up there.
“The rooftop will be basically an overgrown garden, a sort of treehouse kind of theme, which will flow back downstairs.”
They’re opting to go without a dedicated theme to the bar, aiming instead to create a great all-rounder.
“We didn’t want to pick a theme, per se. You know, Lobo’s a rum bar, the Baxter’s a whisky bar, there’s gin bars — I think it’s time someone just opens a bar. We’ll have a focus on cocktails, because that’s what we do,” he says.
So expect cocktails that are creative but not over the top conceptual — they’ll focus on good drinking drinks with a bit of fun ‚ and a food offering that will aim to be a little more comprehensive than most bar food options, given that Walters and Noble have both spent time in kitchens.
As for the name, they’ve had that for a while, and the place has been in the works more or less for the better part of a decade dating back to their time working together at theloft at Sydney’s King St Wharf (the pair have known each other since they were 14 ).
“Both of us knew at that point that we had nowhere near enough experience to open a bar,” Walters says. “No matter what bar we opened, it was always going to be called Old Mate’s.”
The trio has been looking for a site for a while, and come close on a couple occasions — even pulling out of a venue just before the state government tightened licensing laws a few years back.
“We came close about two weeks before the lockouts came in — we would have had this big venue that wouldn’t have had the licence for,” Gabrielle says.
They found the current site — the address of which they’re reluctant to reveal at the moment — but would need to make some significant changes to it for the place to work.
“It was one of these things that we took a huge gamble on, like if we could put a mezzanine on and utilise this roof, it’ll be amazing. But that was all dependent on the DA — if it all fell through, we would have lost thousands and thousands,” Walters says.
“We rolled the dice, and somehow everything came up Millhouse. Our licence came through a month early.”
“We did everything we could do to make it happen,” says Noble.
It’s a development that Walters thinks might be a sign of a change to come in Sydney’s development landscape, given the doom and gloom of the lockouts era.
“I think it’s a good sign for Sydney,” he says. “The licence was significantly quicker than we thought. Maybe it’s turning a corner.”
Expect Old Mate’s Place to open in the Sydney CBD in early 2018.