Nokturnl has built a reputation for creating esteemed Perth mega-venues that house multiple offerings, and there’s more to come in 2023.

What ended up being a great year for Nokturnl in 2022 started out quite rocky. The Old Synagogue in Fremantle was hampered by a covid wave, tough restrictions and uncertainty around when state borders would re-open. At the same time, the group was dealing with construction delays, material shortages and cost blow outs at their latest build, The Beaufort. But despite these challenges, Nokturnl was able to get The Beaufort open in March, and the public flocked to both venues as soon as mask mandates and restrictions were lifted.

“Both our venues have experienced strong trade throughout the year and forward bookings over the Christmas and New Year period are at record levels,” states Ross Drennan, director and co-founder of Nokturnl.

In what is becoming the group’s signature, both venues are massive complexes that house an array of offerings: from laid-back beer gardens to award-winning restaurants, from rooftop cocktail bars to traditional sports bars, and much more.

At both venues, the restaurants have overperformed. For The Old Synagogue this is Tonic + Ginger, a south-east Asian fusion restaurant seating 120 guests over two levels. At The Beaufort, it’s Lotus, led by executive chef Sundoo Kim, who had moved to Perth after heading up a restaurant in Melbourne for the Lucas Group. Drennan says moving to a focus on food was new for himself and co-founder Drew Flanagan, after having previously focused on beverage offerings.

“Restaurants take up a significant amount of the footprint of our venues and as such, they’re something we had to get right. Prior to opening these two venues, our experience had only been on the bar side and food was a little terrifying. We have been fortunate to attract some incredible chefs who have not only taught Drew and I a hell of a lot, but they’ve also catapulted our business success through delivering great menus across our venues.”

It’s a move that’s worked out well for the pair, with both venues having amassed multiple awards in 2022. With less than a full year of operations under its belt, The Beaufort was named Perth’s Best Venue at the 2022 AHA WA Awards, as well as taking out the New Venue Award and Lion Bar Presentation and Service Award, and the Best Restaurant Award for Lotus. Jenny Purdy, restaurant manager at Tonic + Ginger, was awarded the Excellence in Service Award. Drennan puts the wins down to the staff at both venues.

“I’m pretty wrapped with the team of people we have working at our venues. Everyone has really bought in to our vision for the venues and the hard work and talent is what brings the awards.”

New projects

This year, Nokturnl has two other venues in the works. The group won a tender with the WA Government to transform the Market Hall at Yagan Square in Perth’s CBD – a space that will exceed The Old Synagogue and The Beaufort in both size and capacity. The project will span five levels and will include numerous indoor and outdoor bars, as well as two restaurants.

“We’re excited to have kicked off this project. It’s the largest project we’ve done to date and should be complete in summer 2023. It’s an ambitious project, but one that has the potential to turn the fortunes of Yagan Square around and inject some life back into that part of the city,” states Drennan.

The group is also set to start construction on a fourth project, the conversion of a heritage-listed police station in South Perth. The existing police station and alfresco area will be turned into a sophisticated beer and wine bar, while an underground restaurant is also being constructed. The venue is set to open in early to mid-2024, coinciding with the completion of the adjoining Civic Heart residential development.

There’s a lot of big things to come from Nokturnl this year – literally.

This article was first published in Australian Hotelier’s 2023 Annual Industry Leaders Forum.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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