Pride of our Footscray


The Rotary Club of Footscray recently heard from the Pride of our Footscray, community bar and event venue lo-cated in Hopkins St. Footscray just opposite the Footscray Market. The idea came about from a conversation with friends and Matthew O’Keefe (who had worked for over 16 years at CUB.) decided to take on the challenge. The planning and co-ordination took over 12 months to bring to life before the Grand Opening day.

The idea was to create a community bar where the ownership was community based and not by a large company, it was to encourage a place where anyone and everyone could hang out / come together / enjoy entertainment and socialise with anyone who walked through the door. It was about creating a safe, social environment for straight and LBGTIQ people, to help break down barriers and stereotypes, and help with grow understanding and creation of a real local identity. 

Mat arranged for the visual design team at VU (namely Peter Holmes) to create the logo which represents the community feel they were trying to create. They then decided to create a Unit Trust to own the business and sell units to local investors – but ASIC got involved and what started as a 14 page concise document ended up 52 pages and was finally registered with ASIC and approved for investors consideration. After the initial funding round the Unit Trust ended up with 190 individual investors providing the funding they needed to create the dream. 

Given that they had more than 20 owners they then had to become a Public company and it now has 6 Directors. After discussions with CUB (who wanted a monopoly on all 8 beer taps), the bar now provides on Tap beers from local and boutique brewers – Mountain Goat, Hop Nation; Two Birds, True Love Brewing. All the wines are sourced from West of Melbourne, and spirits are also sourced via Paramount in Derrimut. All in keeping with the local / community theme and vibe. 

Pride of Our Footscray also support local artists and show works from local artists on a rotation basis and to-date have already sold 12 pieces in the first 6 weeks of operation. 100% of the proceeds of the art sales goes back to the artist with no commissions to enable them to get a start in the community and reward them for their efforts. In a twist of community, the most successful sales have been for the winner of the 2017 VU Graduate Art Prize – as part of the Footscray Art Prize our Club was heavily involved in last year. 

There is also a Sports Bar / area where all the AFLW games are shown and Western Bulldogs even had their 2018 season launch at the Bar as well as the Media conference for the Pride match between Western Bulldogs and Carlton, in February. The building is also adorned with murals painted by local street artists which is very reflective of the views and ideals of the West. 

Much support has been shown from Maribyrnong City Council, Victoria Police, local politicians which has been a great boost for the project getting of the ground and maintaining good patronage in the bar since opening in Janu-ary. The Bar also orders in meals from a range of local restaurants, rather than compete with their own kitchen. It has made other businesses also supportive of the concept too. 

Local music will be an integral part of the scene as well – with brass bands and string quartet’s being some of the ideas for creating a vibrant local feel and sound. The Bar is on the first floor, 86-88 Hopkins Street, Footscray. It is open from 5pm to 1am each day 7 days per week.

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