Nokturnl has brought a signature large-scale offer to Perth’s CBD with its latest venue, Stories.

In late 2021, Nokturnl – the group behind award-winning venues The Old Synagogue and The Beaufort – won a tender process ran by the State Government to reinvigorate Yagan Square. The precinct was a $100m development by the Western Australian government that sits adjacent to Perth’s main train station and bus terminals, and at its centre ran an elevated food court with multiple vendors called Market Hall. But with a closed-in design that didn’t invite foot traffic and the onset of covid, Yagan Square suffered, and more than a dozen vendors within Market Hall shut up shop.

Nokturnl won the tender with a design to revitalise the precinct with a new venue to replace Market Hall that would add an extra two floors to the building, while also opening up and activating more of the outdoor space. The $16m redevelopment took 18 months to complete, and began a staggered opening in May this year. With its other venues located throughout the greater metropolitan area, Stories is the first CBD venue for Nokturnl.

“Stories was the scariest project we have completed to date. It’s our most ambitious in terms of scale and investment and our first one in the CBD market which is challenging. Perhaps less challenging than over east, but still affected by similar issues of office attendance rates. It was clear that we needed to create a destination venue that would draw people to the venue seven days per week,” stated Nokturnl director Ross Drennan.

“There was a mad push to finish off the construction works and open the venue to coincide with a large precinct-wide government event. This event was great in that it drew tens of thousands of people to the precinct. Since then, the venue has seen week on week growth and is at capacity every weekend, despite it being winter.”

A multi-faceted offer

The Front Yard at Stories.

Like Nokturnl’s two other large venues, Stories is a large venue with a multi-faceted offer. Stories covers more than 4000sqm of building area with significant outdoor areas allowing for a capacity of 3286 pax internally and ETP areas that can be activated to take total capacity to close to 5000. It comprises nine bars and three restaurants over five levels.

Stories is divided up into three main spaces – Front Yard, Pourhouse and Rooftop. Front Yard boasts the CBD’s largest beer garden, and offers a family-friendly atmosphere with a playground, alfresco bar, sports screens and chilled playlist.

A haven for families and pets in the daytime, it transforms into to a lively hotspot for groups after dark.

Pourhouse is the public bar offer of the venue, featuring 20 taps along a 15m bar and a glass keg room. The space has an industrial aesthetic, giant murals, and a stage space showcasing live music performances by DJs and local bands every Friday and Saturday night. It also houses the hidden speakeasy bar, Fat Controller.

The top two floors of the venue are the Rooftop, making the most of 360-degree views of the city skyline stretching from Elizabeth Quay to Northbridge. With unique spaces, bright neons, cocktails and DJs playing until 2am on the weekends, Rooftop is the party hub of the venue.

Externally on the ground floor, Stories also houses three restaurants: Alba, a modern Italian restaurant; Karla, an Asian restaurant with dishes cooked over flames and coal; and Ugly Baby, a casual Middle Eastern restaurant.

Since opening, Stories has been incredibly popular, with the Nokturnl team having to recruit more staff to service all areas of the mammoth venue.

“Since then, the venue has seen week on week growth and is at capacity every weekend, despite it being winter. We have had to build up our opening staff base significantly to cope with the higher than anticipated demand and have just surpassed the 300 team-members mark.  We’re now really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this financial year,” stated Drennan.

Stories sits at the centre of the $100m Yagan Square development, adjacent to the train station. Student accommodation is also being built nearby.

The Station, South Perth

In the midst of the Stories build, Nokturnl was also completing works on a smaller venue, The Station in South Perth, which opened in December. Set within the heritage-listed 1908 South Perth Polic Station, the build of the Station – including basement restaurant Ludo – took 24 months to complete.

It is the smallest and most intimate of Nokturnl’s venues, but Drennan says that has come with an unexpected joy, as they get to know the locals and regular visitors.

“The Station has also been a great success story for Nokturnl. From the day it opened, it has been a hit with the local community and we started to see a lot of regulars within just the first few weeks. It’s our smallest venue but with that comes a deeper connection with the customers.

The Station forms part of Civic Heart, the largest apartment development ever built in WA. Nokturnl was granted early occupancy, with residents only now beginning to move in to the complex. “With all these new residents, we are looking forward to many more regulars to further improve the performance of the venue.”

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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