On a warm Friday afternoon before the October long weekend, Mark Reginato set up four kerbside tables and chairs outside Hellbound.
It mightn’t seem like much, but it’s something he’s waited to do since opening the below-ground venue with winemaker Louis Schofield in 2018.
The pair had always faced roadblocks, including opposition from nearby retail outlets and an initial lack of support from Adelaide City Council and liquor licensing.
“After Covid-19, I wanted to try again, because we were still at restricted numbers downstairs and this is something that would really help with paying rent and being a viable business,” Reginato says.
“Most of the businesses surrounding us have it and we have tried over the last couple of years, even just for Fringe, and we were always told ‘no’.”
Reginato started attending liquor licensing meetings in the city’s west end, where traders have been allowed to extend their outdoor dining along Leigh and Peel streets to offset restricted capacities indoors.
Liquor and gambling commissioner Dini Soulio asked why he was there. Reginato told him about his hold up with outdoor seating, and Soulio offered to help.
“Finally, Adelaide City Council and liquor licensing were very helpful and aided us to push through, and thankfully it was all approved,” says Reginato.
He and Schofield purchased the old lime-green and orange outdoor furniture from fellow east end trader Hey Jupiter. Without Covid restrictions, it allows for 16 people out the front at any one time.
“It’s also instant marketing for us,” Reginato says. “You can walk past the door, the hundreds of A-frames along the street, but now you see furniture and you know instantly it’s a hospitality venue.
“In the warmer months, we don’t get busy until a lot later because people want to sit outside. Now we have four tables and it’s already paying off. We had a function for 40 people downstairs on Saturday. That meant we could have four rotating tables upstairs, and that way we are not rejecting everybody.
“We’ve also been able to employ another staff member, because [the area] has to be monitored. So it’s really changed up the offering.”