It’s not unusual for a venue to close down and then re-open in a new location. But it’s strange when it happens all within 36 hours.
When developers forced Pawn & Co. out of its South Yarra home in March, the owners made it their mission to bounce back in record time. The venue closed on a Sunday, the new venue opened the following Tuesday, and there was an official launch the following Friday night.
Along with its new Prahran location, it also debuted a new look.
If you weren’t familiar with the old bar – known for its Sunday hospo night – the idea was that everything you could see, touch or taste was for sale. The new Pawn & Co. works off the same concept, but all of the items in this iteration fall under what owner Josh Lefers calls “a futuristic steampunk” theme.
“The idea for the update was to have a steampunk pawn shop, where all of the items for sale are from the future,” says Lefers. “Something I always wanted to do was a bar where absolutely everything – from the grand piano to the albino cyborg stuffed kangaroo – was for sale.”
Pawn & Co. now has two levels, and both of them are filled with surprises. When you walk into the bar you’re greeted with two options for ordering a drink. The first is the Carousel Bar, an automated carousel stocked with premium spirits that rotates above a human bartender. The second is a talking vending machine from which you can order a can of beer while making small talk with a drink-dispensing robot.
Upstairs is as just as kooky. At the top of the stairs, you’ll see a room full of curios, from genuine vintage pistols and guitars, to a full-size, custom-built replica of a Star Wars-style block of carbonite. There are also some more salacious objects on display. “There might be a dildo or two,” says Lefers coyly. “Say you’re on a date and your date is a bit boring, I figured this corner would be a funny way to break the ice.”
If you’re after a drink on the top floor, you can order one from the “Organocktail”, a cocktail-dispensing musical instrument. “It’s a bit of theatre with convenience,” says Lefers. “It’s this huge church organ … and when you wind the hand-crank, ice drops in, the glass goes along a mini conveyor belt, and then your drink drops in.”
The cocktail menu at Pawn & Co. was put together by the folks at Menace to Sobriety. Just like the items for sale, the creations tread the line between nostalgic and inventive. For instance, the Gunpowder Iced Tea is a spin on the Long Island Iced Tea, with rum, chilli-infused peach tea and chocolate. There’s also an alcoholic spider: bourbon-infused vodka, Coca-Cola reduction foam, soda water and rhubarb served in an old-fashioned milkshake cup. Lefers is also part-owner of East 9th Brewing – which distributes Doss Blockos and Lick Pier, among others – so you can count on a range of craft beers, ciders and alcoholic ginger beers.
With the new venue, Lefers said he wanted to encourage a “buy, sell, loan, dance” vibe. The new venue’s licence runs until 5am, so once you’ve had your fill of robot-dispensed beer, you can dance among steampunk thrones and old pianos until the early hours. And at the end of the night, if you’ve fallen in love with the albino cyborg kangaroo, you can always take it home with you.
Pawn & Co.
177 Greville Street, Prahran