A LOCAL BAR with elegant feminine cocktails served in Riedel glassware, a doggy in the window and the option of chatting with famous visiting stars who treat the joint as their second home?
If that’s the wish list of Subi Ladies who Lunch (A-Lot), then they need wish no longer. Those quirky draw cards are already attracting loads of females – and their most welcome blokes – to Bar Amelie, the new Rokeby Road venue, which was previously home to a cheeky boy called Bistro Felix.
And there’s more – watch out for High Teas, oyster shucking by Jerry Fraser, a coffee window, paella nights and a return to the good old fashioned Sunday session with live acoustic music.
Bar Amelie – named after the smash hit French comedy Amelie – is the brainchild of business partners, Kat Dehavilland and Kim Knight, who, when it comes to hospitality, know how to please a woman. Like the film’s central character, Amelie, their mission is simple – to make others happy.
“Creating connections is what we want our bar to be about,” says Dehavilland, who has had hospitality adventures in bars all around the world and was previously State Manager for Treasury Wine Estates, one of the world’s largest wine companies.
Customers, it appears, are loving their suburb’s departure from masculine interiors and blokey barstools as they luxuriate in the teal blue and forest green colour scheme with touches of pink. They’re loving the delicate, spidery images of butterflies and flowers on the walls. And they’re loving Pepper – Knight’s border collie – who was an ever present figure in the bar’s window during the extensive refurbishment as the two women scrubbed, painted, plastered walls and breathed new life into the place, often in 40 deg heat.
What’s more, they did it all around their demanding day jobs.
Classy wines, simple tapas, rustic share plates and a comfy, relaxed ambience also have found fans among masculine tastes – famous ones at that.
Last month Australian comedian, Lawrence Mooney, was often propped up at the bar courting a throng of fans before and after his sold out shows at the Regal Theatre.
It’s a no brainer for Bar Amelie to become the default Green Room for the Regal Theatre, the historic venue which a recent study found generates over $21 million per annum into Subiaco’s nocturnal economy and attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually to the suburb.
Knight has been involved with the Subi icon since she was aged seven when her parents, Stan and Barbara Bird – with John Thornton-- took over the lease in 1977 and turned it from a cinema to a live theatre venue.
“I remember stamping the tickets when it was all done by hand,” she says.
That spawned a love of entertainment – hosting artists such as Billy Conolly, Barry Humphries, Pamela Stephenson and Dennis Waters – as well as a huge passion for Subiaco. Now, as the theatre’s business owner and general manager she is spreading the love up Rokeby Road.
A chance conversation with Dehavilland, one year ago at a party, was a lightbulb moment as her likeminded business partner expressed her dream to open a bar which provided comfort and food, drink and conversations that create memories.
Not long after they spotted the old Bistro Felix and set to work. The dream became complete when they secured former Stephanie’s (Steve’s Hotel) chef, Richard Pothecary, who puts together shared plates featuring cured meats, gourmet cheeses, fresh honey, pickled and fresh vegetables, local seafood and fresh crusty bread.
Dehavilland’s wine knowledge is evident in the drinks list – a classy combination of classic cocktails, local craft beer and boutique wine producers along with traditional classic brands.
“We will have a wine wall in the back room where customers can go on a journey with back vintage premium wines where each bottle will tell a story,” says Dehavilland. Something tells us Amelie would love it.