On Johnston Street in Abbotsford, Lulie Tavern is a rollicking local-favourite boozer recalling the classic bars of America, filled with old-timey neon signs and bric-a-brac, and Tom Petty memorabilia and tunes.

Now, the tribute to the late rock’n’roll legend has been extended upstairs with the just-in-time-for-summer opening of Full Moon Fever, a rooftop bar named after his 1989 album.

But the inspiration doesn’t stop there. The laid-back outdoor saloon bar takes design cues from owners Jon-Lee Farrell and Brendan Kennedy’s travels to off-the-beaten-track desert bars in California’s Joshua Tree National Park. “It feels like you walk up there and it could have been there for 20 years,” Farrell tells Broadsheet. “It’s a less shiny version of the Cali bar scene and still keeping with that Lulie aesthetic.”

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Found atop a former bank built in the 1960s, the pair repurposed as much of the original building as possible, using mostly raw and recycled materials for the fit-out. That means large warehouse windows and red Northcote factory bricks lining the walls and bar, juxtaposed with terrazzo-style stone, built-in timber booths and sunny day beds. There’s also a retractable roof and wood heater for those cooler Melbourne days, plus a wall lined with cacti and succulents.

The drinks list is on-theme, centring on Cali-style cocktails – think tequila, mezcal and bourbon-based “forgotten classics” – or opt for a cactus-shaped drinks dispenser filled with a mix of tequila blanco, blood orange and sparkling brut that serves 12.

The menu has a “roadhouse, outback saloon vibe”, Kennedy says, and it’s not too dissimilar to the one downstairs. There are eight hulking burgers to choose from (including a riff on the Hungry Jack’s Whopper that’s “heavy on the onion” and a vegan fried-chicken number), plus Southern fried buffalo wings and hot chips and gravy.

While its downstairs predecessor is dim and dive-y in the best way, the team is contrasting it with this wide, open-air beer-garden space. Head up via the stairs or lift and smash a few golden-hour drinks looking out over Abbotsford. “It’s obviously outdoors, but it’s set back from Johnston Street,” Kennedy says. “You leave the hectic street and when you’re upstairs it feels serene, like you could be anywhere.”

Full Moon Fever opens on Friday November 18.

Full Moon Fever
Upstairs, 225 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

Hours:
Mon to Thu 4pm–late
Fri to Sun 12pm–late

lulietavern.com