In a rather unusual move, the owners of Hard Rubbish are giving away their bar for free. The venue in the northern Melbourne suburb of Preston has spent years flying the craft beer flag and now, with the team behind it ready to move on, they've come up with a unique means of finding the right people to steer it in the right direction.
They've created a particularly colourful and hilarious website that makes clear the sort of people they won’t give the bar to, why it's being given away free, and their thoughts on capitalism.
Charlotte Tizzard, who opened the bar with her brother and sister-in-law in 2016, says they could sell the bar, but they don’t believe that’s the best option for the future of Hardo (as it’s known to regulars).
“We obviously looked into selling it,” she told The Crafty Pint. “And while it is sellable and we could and make a little bit of money, by the time the broker’s taken their fee and all that we’d be in a position where we’d need to sell it to the person who had the most money, rather than being in a position to hand it on to someone who we really like and who we like their vision for it.”
Charlotte says the decision to give up Hardo after more than six years is driven by the fact she's reached a point in her life where she can't commit to it how she once did. She's really keen to see younger, equally passionate people – as well as regulars – put in a proposal.
“We thought about where we were when we opened it on a shoestring, and there’s no way I could have afforded to buy someone else’s business,” she says.
“[So] why don’t we give some young, hungry people, who might not have the money but have the energy, [the chance] to keep Hard Rubbish going? That’s most important to us.”
When Hard Rubbish opened, Charlotte had no experience running a bar and she says that, while the new owners would benefit from prior hospo experience, it's certainly not a requirement.
“We’re really open to that because it’s how we started,” she says.
“When we first opened, we didn’t even sell spirits because we didn’t know how to make cocktails.”
Although inexperienced in hospitality, when the bar opened in 2016, it helped get craft beer off the ground in its part of Melbourne. The 86 tram line has long been Melbourne’s best for craft beer, but there had been no reason to stay on board that far north if you were looking looking to drink good beer or dine out. These days, things are much changed: as Hard Rubbish and its five taps and beer fridge, you’ll also find Future Mountain, Ragtime Tavern and The Borderland restaurant nearby.
“It’s so different now,” Charlotte says. “When we first opened, there was nothing around; there was a gallery that was open once or twice a month and it took a long time to get established.
“Now the corner's really come alive, it’s become a destination where people come and know there are options to eat and drink.”
As a bar, Hard Rubbish has built a community around it too – Charlotte sees their locals as just as heavily invested in the bar as she is. As such, any potential owners won’t just have to impress Hard Rubbish’s current owners and staff but the regulars too. Shortlisted proposals are going to be presented at the bar in November, so everyone can have a say in its future.
“They’ve been our bread and butter, and it’s always a really nerve-wracking thing when your local changes hand,” Charlotte says. “You can feel like it’s being sold from under you if you’re emotionally invested.
“We want to do a bit of presentation night at the bar so people can vote and everyone feels involved. It makes it more of a fun project rather than a very serious, capitalist enterprise.”
While the offer is off limits for large hospo groups looking for another venue or someone hoping to open a Degani, she’s open to hearing fresh ideas.
“If you’re wise, I think you’ll see people like a lot about it as it is,” Charlotte says.
“But we are giving it away no strings attached so the people who are taking it over are under no obligation to make it a museum. I want it to grow and evolve with the people it services.
“I just want to see people’s ideas; I’m hoping to get my mind blown.”
You can find further details of what the Hardo owners are looking for here.