Gustavo Gonzalez and Sebastian Butler, the owners of Northcote institution Joe’s Shoe Store, have taken their simple but effective formula over to Uncle Joe’s, their new Lygon Street bar.
“Good vibes, good booze, good tunes, without that it doesn’t matter what you do,” says Gonzalez as a staff member thumbs through the bar’s sizeable record collection, jumping from chic disco to the rasp of Grinderman.
Gonzalez and Butler were lucky enough to find a spot next door to Brunswick wood-fired pizza spot Mankoushé, allowing them to continue the Shoe Store routine of delivering hot slabs of dough and cheese from a friendly neighbour.
Cocktails are kept simple and classic. Think perfectly diluted Martinis and Negronis, although they aren’t averse to a twist. The Espresso Martini incorporates a house-made Lebanese date syrup.
There’s a rotating tap for beer, supported by tinnies from Exit, Pirate Life and Sample breweries. The concise but thoughtful wine list has a nice selection of natural and skin-contact wines alongside local and European imports from Germany to Spain. Butler is also hoping to expand the list to include some Lebanese wine.
Known for hosting some of Melbourne’s best DJs, from Andee Frost to Danny Hotep, the Shoe Store can get pretty rowdy. At the new venue the boys aim to start off a little more relaxed.
“It’s a nice size, it’s kind of perfect,” Gonzalez says. “We are getting older, I’m not 33, you know? – I just had a baby daughter, Eva, I’m not the same trashbag I was 10 years ago.”
A large part of the success of Gonzalez and Butler’s Northcote bar is the sense of community it’s created over its lifetime; it’s carved out a place in the hearts of their regular customers through hard work and genuine relationships.
“At Joe’s we’ve had customers coming in since day one. You’ve known these guys since they were 22, 23 and now they are 32 and still coming, partying with you and hanging around. Some of them would bring in toddlers who are now eight years old. I’m really looking forward to having the same thing here.”
325 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Tue to Sun 4pm–1am