A significant hole opened up in the Adelaide coffee landscape yesterday with news that Bar 9 Parkside has closed.
This is big news. Adelaide’s specialty coffee scene was born the day Bar 9 moved into a tiny tin shed in the eastern suburbs. It was a coffee shop in the truest sense (the place had more grinders than chairs). The lowly venue quickly became a refuge for the city’s top baristas and home-brew aficionados, who would crowd the bar to drink and discuss the freshest roasts from across the country. Many have gone on to open their own cafes and/or roasteries, including Brad Nixon at Elementary Coffee and Dan Freer, the original owner of Please Say Please.
Within two years Callahan’s ambitions outgrew the space, and he moved his operation across the road, adding a full kitchen and 100 more seats.
In 2016, the building sold and Callahan spent several months negotiating a lease with new landlords, and doing some other maths on the side. The numbers just didn’t add up. He resolved to close Parkside and channel all his resources and energy into Bar 9 Whitmore, which opens this weekend.
“Losing Parkside is a giant wallop to the guts,” Callahan says. “But it doesn’t mean that I’m turning my back on what we built. I’m moving on to the next opportunity and will keep bringing value.”
Bar 9 Whitmore will begin trading this weekend with “the complete offering, and then some”. The kitchen team is finessing an updated menu, which Callahan assures will feature all the Bar 9 classics, alongside other new brunch offerings. A vintage lever piston machine is currently being refurbished and will be installed as “a polite little nod to the original Bar 9”, where this classic style of service was a defining fixture. The bar at Whitmore is designed to allow customers to engage closely with baristas too, just like the old days.
Bar 9 will continue its community engagement program assisting Adelaide’s underprivileged, in partnership with the St Vincent de Paul Society. Callahan says, “It’s still something that matters to me very much, and I’m looking at ways to develop it further.” That could include nighttime programs at Whitmore and Central, or even a mobile hub.
Since this story was published, Broadsheet has spoken to Callahan again to address the notice posted on Bar 9’s door concerning rent owed to the building’s landlord (totalling $14,598.08).
Callahan told us he met with the landlord on Monday morning to discuss the two months of rent owed (from the previous month and the one to come). Increases in rent, produce and operating costs mean it is no longer viable for Bar 9 to continue trading at Parkside.
"I could have kept going for another month, maybe six or even 12, but we'd just arrive back at the same conversation sooner or later," says Callahan.
Broadsheet also asked Callahan to respond to comments on our Facebook page regarding superannuation owed to past employees. He says he’s meeting all obligations as required by the Australian Taxation Office, but acknowledges it could be a lengthy process.
Bar 9 Central
Basement, David Jones, 100 Rundle Mall, Adelaide
Mon to Thu 8:30am–4pm
Bar 9 Whitmore
34 Whitmore Square, Adelaide
Wed to Fri 8am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8.30am–2pm