Melbourne musos (and mates) Chris Wright and Jonathan Reisacher have spent most of their adult lives gigging, producing music, and, crucially, drinking around town.
This long-time connection to the city’s nightlife meant they were well-placed to open a spot of their own. And they’d been planning to do so for a few years – but some building mishaps, a record-label launch and you-know-what in 2020 – set them back.
But, finally, the pair’s first foray into the world of hospo – and the latest addition to the watering holes of Collingwood’s Johnston Street – is here. And it’s called Gum.
Walking through the door, you immediately feel at ease. A somehow-familiar ’70s-inspired fit-out by Brunswick designer Bianca Sciuto includes kitsch floral wallpaper, bright-orange tabletops and retro lampshades. It gives off a homey vibe that might remind you of a childhood visit to your nan’s house.
“As great as a classic American dive bar is, it just feels like they’ve been popping up in Melbourne nonstop over the past few years,” says Wright, who also runs Sunset Pig Records. “We wanted to do something that felt bright, felt nostalgic and actually felt like authentic ’70s Australia.”
The drinks list is as much of a throwback as the decor. Wright says there’s a “blended flashback to something probably best forgotten” in the Banana Cream Daiquiri, and a honeydew melon Tom Collins called the Melanchollins. There are also summery cocktail jugs such as the Aperoyal – Gum’s take on a classic Aperol Spritz – with Aperol, pink rosé, apple cider, prosecco and soda.
“We’ve spent the best part of 12 years drinking all over Melbourne together,” says Reisacher, who met Wright at uni. “So, we just put together a pretty straightforward drinks menu based on the things we’ve liked over the years.”
The guys have taken a similarly no-nonsense (and quintessentially Aussie) approach to the menu, which is dominated by pies and sausage rolls from Footscray’s Pie Thief. Expect a Big Mac pie, a classic steak pie and a pork-and-fennel sausage roll, plus a vegan spaghetti bolognaise pie, and vanilla slice for dessert.
There’s a beer garden out back, where an accounting firm used to be, and local DJs will be spinning tunes there Thursday to Saturday. With his record label in mind, Wright says he wants Gum to be a platform for up-and-coming DJs and musicians.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of local talent through here – anyone spinning some alternative stuff or anything else that will fit the venue,” he says. “The venue will hopefully operate closely with local DJs and musicians as time goes on, and we’ll start selling local bands’ merch along with our own.”
Wed & Thu 4pm–10pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–1am