Footscray is getting a mechanical bull. And it’s all thanks to Moon Dog’s new Wild West-themed site.

After a roller-coaster lead-up where the Maribyrnong Council rejected and then finally approved the indie brewery’s plans to take over the iconic Franco Cozzo building and transform it into a mega venue, Broadsheet can now report that the Moon Dog team picked up the keys to the building last Thursday November 23.

Work is now underway on the site: all three of the building’s 1000-square-metre floors.

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Broadsheet talks to Josh Uljans and Karl van Buuren, two of Moon Dog’s Founders, right after they visit the Waverley Antique Bazaar in Clayton to find decor for the new location. The renovated space will have an atrium cut in the middle that will allow natural light to flood the entire venue. Each floor will have a completely different vibe (although all will be in keeping with the venue’s Western theme).

The team is currently calling the ground floor the saloon bar. It’ll have what Uljans describes as a “Western township vibe” and will have a family-focused area with an arcade game-filled kid’s ranch. The ground floor will also be home to the venue’s centrepiece – a rodeo mechanical bull.

Up a flight of stairs on level one the theme is “honky-tonk”, which Uljans says will be dark, moody and “a little bit cowboy dive bar”. There’ll be a section inspired by Bob’s Country Bunker – the bar from The Blues Brothers where John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s characters perform the Rawhide theme. Level one will also have a pianola bar that can be used for private functions or turned into a bourbon bar, an outdoor balcony and a stage for bands to perform.

On the upper level, the building’s existing roof will be removed to make way for an open-air rooftop with “Arizona desert vibes”.

The food is yet to be finalised but will be anchored in gastropub classics with some Americana and barbeque elements weaved in.

The Moon Dog team is no stranger to over-the-top venues. At Moon Dog World in Preston there are 72 beer taps, a waterfall, a lagoon, a tiki bar, a beer garden, a playground, elevated sun decks, a hidden barrel-ageing room and space for 725 patrons. At the OG location in Abbotsford there’s a not-so-secret bookcase door and plenty of colourful memorabilia.

Moon Dog Wild West will open to the public on Friday, April 12.

This story was originally published on November 27, 2023 and updated on March 21, 2024 to reflect new information about opening dates.