“This space gives me goosebumps,” says Charlie Galbally as he shows me through his almost-finished wine bar. If I were about to open a place as beautiful as Pep’s, I’d be excited too.
Even with finishing touches still to come, Pep’s is destined to be a hit among the Instagram set. Wide windows facing onto Stirling Highway fill the room with natural light. Jarrah floorboards and exposed brick give the space a timeless elegance befitting a building built in 1890. (Handmade and mid-century furniture, plus encaustic tiles salvaged from a 120-year-old Belgian dairy play their part, too.) The slender bar opens onto a bijou courtyard with a bare, pear tree centrepiece. Charlie and his wife Natarsha Galbally, the owners and designers of Pep’s, have clearly been busy since they received the keys to two neighbouring Peppermint Grove shopfronts (one was a hairdresser, the other was a nail salon) in April. Now, after five months of work, they’re waiting for the final piece of the puzzle: guests.
“I love community and I love neighbourhoods,” says Charlie, a hospitality veteran who Western suburbs locals may recognise as former owner of Swanbourne cafes The Daily Grind and The Other Side. “This is a neighbourhood bar. We’ve got a market out here that’s 25-year-olds to 75-year-olds crying out for somewhere nice to come and have a glass of wine or a beer. We want this place to feel like our home. We want people to sit around and be part of our story.”
Pep’s story, as the Galballys see it, is to be a spot that gently encourages patrons to broaden their drinking horizons. At the heart of the wine program will be a 160-bottle list that its owners hope will ween guests from big South Australian reds, fruit-salad sauvignon blancs and other “traditional” styles, and point them in the direction of contemporary wines. Accessibility will be the bar’s mantra.
“We’re all about quality, modern winemaking techniques, purity of fruit and not scaring the punters,” says Charlie. “It’s gotta be well made and not faulty. There’ll be no sommeliers here. Just come and drink some wine and relax. Come dressed up. Come in a T-shirt. Come in off the beach on a Saturday afternoon. We’re going to have a screen here with the footy on.”
While the bar will regularly rotate its by-the-glass offerings (four whites, four reds, two rosés and two sparklings will always be available), the staff will be happy to pour guests glasses of premium wine via Coravin. Hannah Oliver, formerly of Il Lido and Wines of While has signed on as bar manager.
The food menu will initially be built around the comforting and familiar, with smallgoods, cheese, pickles, dips and bread for snacking. (Paul Salmeri of nearby Sal’s Pasta Deli will help source ingredients.) In time, cooked food and coffee will also be introduced.
Pep’s is one of the key tenants in Peppermint Grove’s new village centre precinct, which also includes the Perth flagship of Melbourne furniture maker Jardan and design agency Milieu Creative.