By Suzan Ryan, editor bars&clubs

Jason Chan of Perth’s West Winds Gin – the man behind Melbourne venues Seamstress, Greenhouse by Joost Bakker at Federation Square and Plenty, in Windsor – will open a dive bar in South Melbourne called Hats & Tatts in early September. The bar will open on the site of the former Southern Cross Hotel on the corner of Cecil and Market Streets.

“This will be a new style of bar for South Melbourne,” said Chan. “All we have is a couple of pubs and strip clubs – in fact, we’re situated just 25 metres from Kittens strip club. South Melbourne is the kind of suburb that has always had a pub on the corner, but the working class clientele has moved on to make way for suits and PR companies and South Melbourne is starved of good places to go after work – you have Lamaro’s or Crown Casino, and that’s about it.”

Chan said the 180-capacity venue will be resized to a smaller space in order for the premises to also become the base for his other businesses, including West Winds Gin and his fledgling mixers company.

Chan said he was inspired to create an American-style dive bar inside the historic pub site by watching other local bar owners return from America and apply concepts taken from dive bars there to their own venues.

“There are some good guys here with strong bars: Nathan DeBritt from Kodiak Club and Dave Kerr from The Beaufort  – great bartenders and great bars, but I’m bored with people going overseas and ripping off ideas from my friend’s American bars and then bringing them back here so I decided to bring an American-style bar to South Melbourne and invite my friends from the States to come over here to mix drinks.”

As part of the extensive refit the pub’s current white palette will be repainted with darker hues such as charcoal to better suit the dive bar feel. The dated pub interior is currently being gutted and new decor fitted. The venue will allow 180 but Chan said he is not applying for an outside licence.

Why The Southern Cross?

“I wanted to find a venue that would serve as a base for my businesses,’’ says Chan. “Somewhere I can do R&D for West Winds Gin on site, with a large space – which we will be making smaller – that would be ideal for my other businesses to be based here, too.

“Rather than swing back to Perth all the time, we will be moving equipment on site for distilling, such as rotovators and dehydrators, so we can begin redistilling our own spirits such as rum and remaking bitters and our own flavours on site – there will be many projects on site.  

“It will be a whole lab experiment in a dive bar setting. There will be elements of high end restaurants but found inside a dive bar; it’s an old pub serving American drinks with a dive feel.”

Hats & Tatts, 78 Cecil Street, South Melbourne.

The Shout Team

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