Carving out a new identity for the space that housed Chippendale’s much-loved, longstanding live-music and cocktail bar Freda’s, which closed in November last year, is no small feat. But with a decade’s experience at notable venues across Sydney, Chris Garner is certainly up to the task.
“Freda’s was a cult institute and I can’t take anything away from the guys who started it and what they’ve done since. It is a bit scary, and we have big expectations to live up to,” Garner tells Broadsheet.
Named after Garner’s race car-driving renegade grandfather, The Barrie – which opened right before Sydney went into lockdown – follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, tapping local musicians to play live music every night it’s open, and offering cracking food and drink options. Like Freda’s, it feels concealed from the world, with raw-brick walls, dimmed lights, and vintage furniture and artworks.
Garner’s first foray into the world of hospitality was at another Sydney institution, Frankie’s Pizza. It was here it dawned on him that perhaps his future would not lie in finishing his arts degree, but opening his own venue.
“I started working at Frankie’s Pizza, and I remember [being] with the owners having drinks one night and, being 20, thinking very naively about what it takes to run a business, I thought to myself, ‘You know what, if these guys can do it I can do it’,” says Garner. “I sent an email to my dad telling him in five years’ time I’m going to open a bar.”
Garner eventually ended up managing the bar at Rockpool’s Spice Temple and was the founding bar manager at Employees Only. It was this pivotal career move that solidified his experience and knowledge and gave him the confidence to begin looking for his own venue.
Bar manager Chris Turvey (ex-Employees Only) and operations manager Liam Stanwell (ex-Rockpool Bar & Grill) run the venue alongside Garner.
As you’d expect with such pedigree, the cocktail menu is extensive and impressive. For something bright and fun there’s the floral and fruity Barrie’s Estate (gin, vermouth, elderflower, chamomile and cinnamon), and on the more intense side, the Big Raz (Glen Grant Scotch, Tempus Fugit cacao, citrus, bitters and smoked cherry wood). Beers and wines are all Australian.
And in welcome news for a post-lockdown, post-lockout world, The Barrie has a 4am licence. There’s also plans in the works to set up a basement boiler room.
107–109 Regent Street, Chippendale
Tue & Wed 4pm–midnight