This trendy new bar has a hot location, a mouth-watering menu, a rotation of DJs and musos, and an exceptional range of beers, cocktails and wines… but it’s missing one usually important thing….
Buddy’s in Newtown in Sydney’s inner-west opened six weeks ago to huge fanfare thanks in part to its novel self-serve operation.
“Behind the scenes, it’s not that much different in terms of the mechanics of the kegs and plumbing,” co-founder Duncan McGeoch explained.
“In terms of the self-serve technology, in a nutshell, when you come in, you grab a card from one of our staff, load it up with money, then tap on the screen over the drink of your choice. That’s it.”
A winning partnership
Long-time mates McGeoch and Jimmy Roe teamed up on the venture, combining their respective skillsets in the hospitality space.
Mr McGeoch had not long returned to Australia after five years in the United States working for a company that provides self-serve technology to venues.
“I helped open about 500 of them so I got to know the model inside out, as well as the elements that you need to make it really work,” he said.
Mr Roe spent several years as a rep for Good Drinks Australia, giving him a keen insight into the ever-evolving drinks market.
A novel concept
Over several weeks, the pair got busy on the fit-out and roped in some friends to help, inspiring the name Buddy’s.
The layout of the bar has seen the moniker come to life, with the flow of tables and the long wall of taps seeming to foster a community vibe among punters.
Buddy’s Bar is the first self-serve venue of its kind at this scale in Australia.
“There was a place in Queensland a few years back that had self-serve taps but it was just a few and it was next to the main traditional bar, so it was just a novelty, and no-one really responded to it,” Mr Roe said.
“You’ve kind of got to go all-in, otherwise what’s the point?”
There are currently 30 taps in operation offering 16 beers, six cocktails, five wines and a selection of non-alcoholic drinks.
Another 12 will eventually be installed upstairs to broaden the selection.
For those not confident pulling a beer or who’ve never tried, Mr McGeoch said a few features make the system almost foolproof.
“The taps are specially designed and imported from America. We’ve also slowed the overall speed at which the beer comes out at to about half. Both those things kind of mitigate the risk of too much foam.
“Then we have a beer wall ambassador who stands there talking to people if it’s their first time pouring a beer, giving them some tips.”
The pair opted for a small bar licence that allows for a capacity of 120 people.
Complying with responsible service of alcohol requirements is something Mr McGeoch and Mr Roe took seriously from the outset.
“We get asked a lot of RSA. It’s a big one for us and it’s all built in,” Mr McGeoch said.
“Every three standard drinks, it’ll put a little pause on the card and a message comes on screen to go see a staff member, who activates them if they’re good to go again.”
Even though the self-serve nature means traditional bartenders aren’t needed, Buddy’s Bar still has a roster of staff to ensure the experience is the best it can be.
“We’ve still got plenty of workers – people on the floor, people at the beer wall explaining the selection – taking the time to engage with customers.
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