NSW bar operators unite to form the Independent Bars Association

Time Out's campaign to make Sydney late again took another step forward on Sunday May 27 as we hosted a who's who of the Sydney bar scene for an exclusive industry event at Restaurant Hubert.

Emceed by the ever-effervescent Matt Okine, the purpose of the evening was to launch the Independent Bars Association, a new industry body that has been formed to represent the interests of NSW's bar operators.

The Independent Bars Association will focus on advocacy and lobbying to improve the commercial viability of small bar licence holders, restaurants with a primary service authorisation or hotel licence sub-type, and general bars with a capacity of 150 or less. Other venues may also be granted membership if they are approved by the committee and provided they are a genuine operator with good trading history.

Temporary officeholders pending the organisation's first AGM, which will occur in September, are:

  • Karl Schlothauer of Pocket Group (President Elect)
  • Pasan Wijesena of Earl's Juke Joint and Jacoby's (Vice President Elect)
  • Luke Ashton of This Must Be the Place (Treasurer)
  • Charlie Lehmann of Ramblin' Rascal Tavern (Secretary)

All of them are also founding members of the IBA, along with Tim Philips-Johansson (Bulletin Place and Dead Ringer) and Anton Forte and Jason Scott of Swillhouse Hospitality (Shady Pines Saloon, Baxter Inn, Hubert).

Karl Schlothauer, IBA President Elect, said:

"We are competitors in this room in some form, but there is an opportunity now for us to be comrades for the common good.

"What does this look like? Advocacy, lobbying and working with the authorities to change things for the better. This also may involve working with associations like the Australian Hotels Association and the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association, where it makes sense to do so. At end of day, we all want people out of the house and in venues."

Michael Rodrigues, Time Out Australia Managing Director, said:

"We saw this youthful industry stagger to its feet ten years ago, aided by a visionary mayor... But then lockout and its evil twin the liquor freeze entered the picture, striking lame an industry that was at the time the envy of the country. We hope that with the launch of the Independent Bars Association our bars can better look after their own interests and help Sydney get back on track in the process."

Also in attendance were Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Miller, John Graham MLC and Justine Baker (Solotel Hospitality), along with industry veterans including Mark Gerber (Oxford Art Factory), Sven Almenning (Speakeasy Group), James Bradey and Warren Burns (8 Hospitality), Toby Hilton and Stuart Morrow (Swillhouse Hospitality) and Julian Train (Barrelhouse Group).

Michael Rodrigues is MD of Time Out Australia. You can reach Michael on 02 8239 5990 or michael.rodrigues@au.timeout.com, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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