Jerome Borazio is best known as the “Jerome” behind St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.
But since trading Melbourne for the Mornington Peninsula six years ago, he’s given locals a lot to be thankful for. He opened the light, bright Ocean Beach Pavilion in Sorrento in 2020. And when he saw Rye’s Mexican restaurant slash live-music venue Baha lying dormant during lockdown, he knew what to do. “I just thought, ‘who else is going to do it?’ Every area needs culture and music is a big part of that.”
He re-christened it Haba and a team of local tradies got to work on a summer-ready reno. “We re-did this in two months,” Borazio says. “Gutted it, re-wired it, re-plumbed it. The only original features left are the walls and part of the floor outside.”
Reborn as a 220-person pub, the airy front bar is a blank canvas ready for crowds and bands. Down the side, the beer garden and Nolty bar (named after one of the tradies) are fitted with purpose-built change rooms for anyone who comes straight from the beach, and there’s another live-music area outside, which leads you back into the main bar. The look is modern but relaxed and spacious. And it’s made for lingering.
While it’s sold as “a Melbourne-style live-music venue with a beach-bar feel”, Borazio was keen to make sure it also felt like a local pub. There’s Carlton Draught on tap and Melbourne Bitter long necks in the fridge alongside a locally focused wine list (think Paringa Estate pinot gris or Stonier chardonnay, plus favourites from SA and NZ).
On the seafood-heavy menu, find vibrant tempura fish tacos, steaming mussels mariniere, and buttery, garlicky bucatini vongole. But there are also more classic pub options like fish’n’chips, double cheeseburgers and hulking veal cotolettas.
Until the full live-music program launches in March, catch DJ sets every Friday and Saturday night. And with Borazio involved in getting a lot of other music events happening on the peninsula, this could be the beginning of a revitalised local scene.
“We’re starved for entertainment on the peninsula,” he says. “The wineries are world-class but that’s a different style of entertainment. There [are] so many creatives around here and so many musicians, but primarily you have to go to Melbourne to see a show.”