Since opening in the late 1980s in a historic Victorian Regency-style shop, North Fremantle’s Old Bridge Cellars has been there for locals. After being bought by the Beeson family in 2012, Old Bridge Cellars doubled down on its commitment to the community by adding more WA products to its shelves, as well as embarking on collaborations with local producers. This year, the Old Bridge Cellars story takes another exciting turn with the opening of a second store in Como.
Taking over the former Como Crafty Cellars shop on the corner of Canning Highway and Henley Street, the new Old Bridge Cellars will replicate the customer focus and range of the original in a more central location. Since opening last Tuesday, co-owner Jay Beeson and his team have been slowly working their way through the store’s existing stock and planning the next two months. By Beeson’s estimates, it's about a fifth of the way into its conversion from chain store to Old Bridge Cellars’ outpost. “But the enthusiasm is already 100 per cent here,” he tells Broadsheet.
It’d be easy to write off this comment as lip-service, but in the half-hour I spend in the store, staff quickly endear themselves to the locals that drop in. They chat whisky with a couple of Scotch enthusiasts. They explain plans to expand the store’s non-alcoholic options. They carry cases of beer out to cars.
While the Beeson family is a big part of the story, Old Bridge Cellars’ wine manager Alister Forsyth has come on as a partner for the new store. Like Beeson, he’s excited about bringing a little bit of North Freo to this end of Canning Highway.
“The beer and spirit side of things here is strong, so it’ll be more about putting our thumbprint on the wine side of things,” says Forsyth “We’re all about the little guys and telling a story with the wine. It’s about real people and real wineries.”
Forsyth says that around 70 per cent of Como’s range will be made up of products already stocked at the mothership – that is, the products people might, once upon a time, have driven to North Fremantle for – while 30 per cent will be reserved for local products. (Beeson shows me some flavoured soju stacked in one of the fridges – a popular purchase for homesick Korean students). While Forsyth and Beeson are happy to stock products that locals are after, the Old Bridge Cellars team draws the line at RTDs with more than 10 per cent ABV and energy drinks mixed with alcohol.
“It’s about being a store that’s part of its community,” says Beeson.
In addition to changing the store’s alcohol focus – a clearance fridge is stocked, for now, with items that don’t fit the Old Bridge Cellars ethos or are past their best-before date – Old Bridge Cellars Como will also introduce a range of comestibles and snack foods, including Bahen & Co chocolate, Dingo hot sauce, cheese and Mexican-inspired La Paleta icy poles. Finally, Como will also carry North Street Store cinnamon buns, just like the original.
The store itself will also get a makeover. Internally, fridges will be shifted around to create dedicated beer and wine sections, while the shop’s exterior is being made over too.
Old Bridge Cellars Como
461 Canning Highway, Como
Mon to Thu 9.30am–8.30pm
Fri & Sat 9.30am–9.30pm