As the decade milestone hits for Papa Gede’s in Sydney, owners Lara Dignam and Michael Dhinse reflect on some key lessons in bar ownership
Papa Gede’s Bar
348 Kent Street, Sydney
New Orleans style cocktail and absinth bar, Papa Gede’s Bar in the CBD, is a stalwart of Sydney’s ever-changing bar scene – this year, they celebrate 10 years of slinging cocktails to the thirsty people of Sydney and will celebrate with a big birthday blowout on this Thursday, November 2nd. Tickets are available so head to their website if you’re keen.
PG’s opened in 2013 as part of the new wave of small bars that were able to open thanks to new laws in NSW about bar licensing brought about by good ol’ Clover Moore. Taking the costs of a license down to a far-more-affordable $500, from an anxiety-inducing $50K.
“There will be good seasons and not-so-good seasons, both emotionally and financially. Don’t rest on your laurels opening a venue. Staying open is a marathon, not a sprint. If it was easy, everyone would do it!”
It’s no mean feat surviving the small bar scene for so long. From painting barstools to pandemics, Lara and Mike from Papa Gedes look back to 2013 when they started their cult laneway bar as an enthusiastic young business, and share some key learnings for anyone about to open a bar today.
- Try not to drink too much…even though you know the cost price… even though you are working so, so hard. Or at least, try to remember to drink water, eat and sleep as well as drink. And if you have to paint bar stools at 2am in your rental property, because you’re still working another job before you open, remember to put down drop sheets. Just a thought.
- There will be good seasons and not-so-good seasons, both emotionally and financially. Don’t rest on your laurels opening a venue. Staying open is a marathon, not a sprint. If it was easy, everyone would do it!
- Prepare your loved ones. Oh god. You will be busy 100% of the time for many, many months. You will forget to return phone calls, forget to eat, forget birthdays, forget your keys. Well, maybe that was just us.
- Accept help when it’s offered- It’s a huge undertaking becoming a business owner for the first time, and as much as the independence is thrilling, you will need wind beneath your wings provided by friends/ partners/ parents/ neighbours/ mentors and especially local industry when your ice machine breaks down and your delivery doesn’t arrive…
- Get familiar with a screwdriver, or a handful of reliable tradies, if you aren’t already. The amount of stuff that breaks down is mind-blowing. And glue everything down that you don’t want to be stolen by cheeky punters on Saturday nights.