When Luke Burgess first opened Hobart restaurant Garagistes, he expected to serve about 40 diners each night. Within three-and-a-half months the restaurant had expanded service to three sittings every evening. Doors opened at 5pm and the waitlist for a table was full by 6pm.
Burgess and his business partner decided to open a wine bar to help cope with overflow. They found a small space that would work perfectly as, “a holding bar around the corner.” They named it Sidecar. The bar mirrored aspects of Garagistes while maintaining its own identity.
“As a customer, it creates two experiences in the one night, which is exciting and interesting,” Burgess says. “As an operator, if you want a holding bar, it’s far easier to have one in your own space”
Vietnamese restaurant Uncle in Melbourne has a no-reservation policy, and built a downstairs bar at the same time as the restaurant.
“We had thought of venues such as Sidecar and others that used overflow bars to keep people waiting at the same venue or very close by,” says Adele Winteredge of Foolscap Studio, which designed Uncle. It offers a controlled greeting point, she adds.
Other operators opportunistically take on new space. Saint Crispin, owned by acclaimed Melbourne restaurateur and chef Scott Pickett, opened a bar called Thomas Olive upstairs from the restaurant, “To cope with guests waiting,” he says. Chris Lucas’s endlessly busy Chin Chin opened [GoGo Bar](http://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/nightlife/directory/bar/go-go-bar-profile downstairs. Andrew McConnell’s always-packed Cumulus Inc. opened Cumulus Up, up top.
The side bar is already a popular addition in cities such as New York, where land is expensive and limited and including a large bar area in the original eatery is not always possible. Manhattan restaurant Dell’ Anima opened a next-door bar called Anfora, relieving congestion at the restaurant’s small bar area. The Fat Radish, a farm-to-table hotspot on the Lower East Side, built a cocktail and oyster bar called The Leadbelly in a space that opened up over the road.
“That was definitely one of the big – if not the – driving force behind the choice of location,” says Andrew Cibej, who opened bar 121bc around the corner from his Italian restaurant Vini, in Sydney’s Surry Hills.
Vini’s small space and popularity made it, “an easy bottleneck situation.” The bar was, “a chance to open a beautiful little area that would function as a waiting space and have a character of its own.”
Adelaide restaurateur Andrew Davies attached sibling bars to two of his venues. Two years after opening Press* restaurant he opened a bar called Proof; an outdoor deck bridges the space between the two. He opened bar Maybe Mae and restaurant Bread & Bone at the same time, with the idea of providing diners with a space in which to wait for a table and to retire to after their meal.
“We’ve done it in a cafe sense,” says Jesse McTavish, who co-owns Melbourne’s The Kettle Black with Nathan Toleman and others. “We introduced a coffee cart and basically took our waiting bay outside.”
“People used to wait inside for a table and it really detracts from the experience of people who are sitting there, who have fought so hard to get in, and then when they get there they’ve got someone’s bum in their face,” Toleman says. “We needed to deal with that problem.”
For Cibej, 121bc has been a smart move and it now has its own following. The problem with the sidecar? They need their own sidecars.
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