Adelaide’s bar culture has become an exciting parade of concept venues, pop up night spots and quirky, themed bars with signature dishes and drinks.
But the wonderful uniqueness of new kid on the block ‘Brick City Bar’ rests in its rejection of a conceptual image and its commitment to being the least exclusive bar in town.
Built by three mates who met working at the Holden factory, Brick City Bar is being dubbed ‘the people’s bar’ by those who stop by for a drink and a chat.
Brenton Agars teamed up with brothers Steve and Alex Farago to find a location, and build their dream venue, which he says was a few years in the concept stage due licensing costs.
“We looked into it for a few years but to get a bar, back in the day, was just outrageous [financially] because of the liquor licensing. We were looking around before the small bar liquor licensing came in, and then when it came in, we were ahead of everyone else because we’d already done a heap of research,” Brenton says.
“We ended up opening the exact same bar we had in our heads. It wasn’t in the exact location, but we achieved better than we thought we’d do. We thought it’d look a bit dingier because we liked the dive bar scene, but the place we’ve got sorts itself out. We’ve got a really cool heritage building and we just had to do seating; the building took care of itself.”
Brick City Bar is located upstairs on the corner of Grenfell Street and Coromandel Place in old, converted law chambers.
“The building had been sitting there a long time. It was very outdated,” Brenton says. “It had green carpet, wood panelling walls and fluoros hanging down from a nice, heritage ceiling. It was a law firm; we fully gutted it and left the outside walls. We were intending to keep the bookcase but somewhere between what we had in our head and what the builders did, it got pulled out!”
Brenton speaks about the bar as if it is home, which is precisely the way he wants the general public to feel about the place.
And he and his friends are only too happy to show you around and tell you the fascinating stories behind the bar and the fixtures.
“The bar is made out of the original wood from the bookshelf. We were running out of funds so we tried to reuse what we could, which is kind of what we’re about. Our place is not too serious, but we’ve got some great ideas; but at the end of the day, it’s about drinking. I wanted to build a place I would drink at, and I built a place I do drink at!” Brenton laughs.
The décor of Brick City Bar is a cool mix of heritage chic and pool room comfort, but it’s the atmosphere that really makes it; if sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, then this is your place.
“It’s a ‘no theme’ bar. It’s for everyone. I’d like to get to a stage where we get everyone in from all walks of life. You don’t have to mingle, but we’d like people to mingle. Everyone’s got a story. It might be shit, but at least you’ve got one!” Brenton laughs.
“I just want it to be a bar that’s full of interesting people. I want everyone in the neighbourhood to want to drink here because it’s a place most people can relate to. We work here and we drink here.
“Often in Adelaide, you walk into a bar and it’s like walking into someone’s place you know nothing about. Some people like that, but it’s not what we’re about. I like people asking me questions; I’ll chat to them. You can come, sit at the bar and have a conversation, rather than standing in a corner with your two mates scared of how much the next round’s going to cost you.”
By day, Brenton, Steve and Alex continue to work at Holden, but once they clock out they head to Brick City Bar and wait for you to come in for a beer and a chat.
Check them out because they are worthy of our support and they are definitely the friendliest bar in town.
Brick City Bar is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 3:30pm until late.
By Libby Parker
Photos by Libby Parker and some are stolen from Brick City Bar’s Facebook page.