The Zoo is back. Tomorrow night, after six weeks of renovations, the rose-painted doors to one of Brisbane’s oldest and most beloved music venues will open once again. The Fortitude Valley venue will continue its focus on independent music, new owner Pixie Weyand confirms. “But we want to be able to open it up so people can enjoy the space,” she says.
Mid last year long-time owner Joc Curran sold the 24-year-old business to Weyand. Her first move? Do nothing. “I sat on my hands for six months and was really particular about not doing anything for that period of time because I didn't feel like I really had much right to,” she says.
But a new owner means new ideas, and tomorrow night you’ll notice a few changes. The wooden floors, red carpet, brick walls and pool tables will all be there, but the bar has been moved to the centre of the venue and now features beer and cocktail taps.
When possible, Weyand will open The Zoo from 5pm Thursday to Saturday without a cover charge, as a place to sink beers and billiards after work. She’s also toying with the idea of “crafternoons”, yoga and jazz nights.
There’s also a partnership with food delivery service, Foodora. A permanent iPad will be set up in the venue letting you arrange meals from local Valley restaurants for a discounted delivery rate, with $3 from every order donated to a music charity.
Previously the owner of carbon-neutral cafe Lost Boys and bar The Treehouse, Weyand has also championed a few changes with the environment in mind. Bottled water will no longer be available and the bar’s lemons and limes are being recycled as part of vodka distiller 42BELOW’s sustainable hand soap initiative.
Still, after taking on the refurbishment of an iconic music venue nearly as old herself, Weyand has found you can’t please everyone. “Social media has been pretty ruthless at times,” she says. “People have always got something to say.”
Particularly about tomorrow night’s opening party, which features the Gold Coast’s Bleeding Knees Club plus local bands Good Boy, Bugs and Black Sun. “It copped a lot because of the all-male line up,” she continues.
Weyand is disappointed by the accusation The Zoo doesn’t support women in the industry. “We chose that line-up not because of their gender. There’s more to the music industry than the bands that are on that stage. Behind the scenes is just as important,” she says. “We have a female venue owner – myself – and booker who is a female. Our social media is run by a female. The poster for that gig was made and designed by a female. We even have a female playing on the night, she just isn’t on the poster. Trina Massey [AKA DJ Black Amex] – she’s an amazing DJ.”
Even the addition of air conditioning to the historic Shannon’s Building on Ann Street has caused a stir, but Weyand says it’s not for the punters. “It’s for the bands,” she says. “We’ve actually lost a lot of shows because we don't have aircon.”
Not that it will be connected in time for tomorrow night’s party – a casualty of renovations never going to plan. Also missing: five chandeliers, lost in the post.
The Zoo relaunch party kicks off tomorrow night, February 4, at 8pm.
711 Ann Street, Brisbane
07 3854 1381