Worksmith is a new co-working space for anyone who works in hospitality. It provides professional support and networking opportunities for both its long- and short-term members.
Co-founder Michael Bascetta spent time working in the bars and restaurants of London, where one aspect of the English hospitality industry stood out. “More people are open to the fact that there are professionals doing hospitality,” he says, referring to an ingrained culture (which also exists in New York and elsewhere in the United States) around being a career waiter, bartender and or other service role.
Despite these successes, Bascetta’s career choice continued to puzzle some people outside the industry.
“I still get questions from extended family and some friends like, ‘What are you actually going to do with your life?’” he says. “And I just think, ‘I own a bar – how don’t you see that as professional?’”
Bascetta also co-founded Grow Assembly, a yearly hospitality-focused convention, and helps run Liberty Spirit Co., Bar Liberty’s bottled-cocktail business. He launched both with old friends and colleagues, showing Bascetta the benefits of increased interaction and collaboration between workers in the hospitality space.
He decided his next business would focus on that concept, but wasn’t sure what shape that would take until he got talking with long-time friend and property developer Roscoe Power, who completed an initiative called Remote Year in 2017.
“They send 75 strangers from all over the globe to work in 12 different co-working spaces across the world for a year,” Power explains. “It gave me insight into co-working spaces and what they can do for specific industries.”
Worksmith combines Power’s experience in the co-working space and Bascetta’s desire to enrich Melbourne’s hospitality scene and help those working in it.
Worksmith occupies the ground floor of a building on Smith Street in Collingwood. Half the space is dedicated to long-term co-workers, who have permanent desks set up. The other is intended for “hot-deskers” – short-term users of the space who might just be passing through town or who need somewhere to work for the day. An 11-metre brass and hardwood island bench sits in-between those halves and serves as the focal point of the room. There are also meeting rooms out the back, and a test kitchen is due for completion in May.
The main drawcard of archetypal co-working spaces such as WeWork is that they offer exposure to a wide variety of professionals working in different industries. But Power believes that style of networking isn’t effective, and can be a waste of time.
“We’re creating a beeline for a single industry … you come in here and you immediately feel that you’re getting more value out of the space because of the access to knowledge and the network pool that exists here,” he says.
So far that network is strong. Many of Worksmith’s early adopters have been old friends or co-workers of Bascetta’s. They include Banjo Harris Plane, Attica’s former head sommelier and another Bar Liberty co-owner; Luke Whearty, the owner of famous Singapore bar Operation Dagger; and Dave Kerr of now-closed The Beaufort.
Despite limiting the focus to one industry, Worksmith accepts a variety of hospitality and hospitality-adjacent businesses; from liqueur companies and wine distributors to graphic designers who specialise in working for bars and restaurants.
“We provide a space where you get the tangible things like a desk and great internet and a coffee, but you also get to be around some of the best industry professionals,” Bascetta says.
“You literally have an … arms-length opportunity to talk about something you’re working on,” Power adds.
450 Smith Street, Collingwood
0481 951 274