Got a great venue idea? Speakeasy’s Pathway to Partnership program is looking to fund it

Sven Almenning & Greg Sanderson
Sven Almenning & Greg Sanderson. Photo: Supplied

One of the great trends we’ve seen occurring in the bar business over recent years is the move towards bartenders opening their own bars.

But it’s not an easy thing to do: you’ve got to have the good idea, for a start, and then there’s all the steps in between from idea to execution: finding a site, building the bar, putting the systems in place, and getting the word out, to name but a few.

However, Speakeasy Group — whose venues include Eau de Vie in Sydney and Melbourne, Boilermaker House, Mjølner Sydney and Melbourne, and Nick & Nora’s — might just have a solution for you.

They’ve just announced the start of their brand new Pathway to Partnership Program, which seeks to uncover some great future operators and to fund their bar ambitions. The program is open to all Speakeasy staff, of course, but it’s also pitched to the wider bar world.

“In short we are offering our staff the opportunity to pitch themselves and their ideas for a future 50/50 partnership with us,” says Speakeasy Group’s Sven Almenning. “We’ll foot 90% of the cost in setting up the new venue and will take care of the lease negotiations and most of the accompanying and ongoing admin side of things, whilst they can focus on doing what they do best: namely running a great venue with great hospitality and service.”


For the first year of the program, they’re opening up six spots for current Speakeasy Group staff members, with an additional two spots available to external applicants.

Here’s how it works: if you’re accepted into the program, you’ll be involved in a nine month mentoring program in which they’ll teach you the basics of owning and running a venue and give you an insight into how Speakeasy Group runs a bar business.

Next, you’ll work for six months in a management position within Speakeasy Group (or shadow a manager), so that both parties get to know one another. During this time you’ll be looking for a location for your venue and working on the business plan.

Then, at the conclusion of the program the directors of Speakeasy Group will assess each proposal and go into partnership with at least one applicant per year, though they’re hoping for there to be more.

You’ll need to be able to raise 10% of the investment required, and Speakeasy Group will kick in up to $250,000, resulting in a 50/50 partnership.

The benefit, we think, doesn’t reside in just the cash investment, but in the opportunity to get an inside look at how one of Australia’s most successful bar groups goes about their business. That kind of investment, well, it’s hard to put a price on.

Applications are open now, but get your thinking cap on and get moving, as they will close on July 15th.

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