Many in the north are still reeling from the loss of The Brunswick Hotel, but co-owner David ‘Frankie’ Cudmore hopes The Bergy Seltzer can rekindle the same magic just 200 metres down the road.
The Bergy Seltzer – originally slated as a side-project of The Brunswick Hotel – became Cudmore’s sole enterprise once it was apparent that The Brunny had poured its last drink. Just 200 meters down the road, The Bergy has a stunning beer garden which is supplemented by an indoor performance space and bartenders who are always up for a chat.
“Both myself and Brodie [Breumer] worked for Richard [Kruk, Manager] at The Brunny for ten years,” Cudmore says. “When it went belly up, we were in an office across the road dealing with lawyers and insurance trying to get The Brunny up-and-running, and we saw this venue was for sale and we thought we’d start a little bar to keep us going in the meantime. Once the pin dropped on The Brunny, it has kind of become an extension of the old place, but that was never our intention.
“We’ve been doing music on the weekends, trying to do more acoustic and duo shows, but we are getting some bands coming in as well. Nothing too heavy, not like The Brunny used to be with metal and punk. We’re just wanting to be a cool hang-out-spot for musicians, with myself and Brody behind the bar talking shit. That was our goal,” Cudmore laughs.
The Bergy hosts a regular comedy night on Mondays, and there are other playful components to the bar – including a list of banned topics. Some taboo subjects include Flat Earth, JFK, and Stones vs Beatles, although they’re never strictly enforced. The list is a product of all the mind-numbing conversations the boys have heard while growing up in the hospitality industry.
“We’ve got a list of banned topics which means when people see it, they instantly start discussing them,” says Cudmore.
The Bergy is setting up for summer, with a surprisingly big beer garden appearing behind an Alice In Wonderland-sized door, and walls lined with iconic music posters from yesteryear. Punters will be pleasantly surprised at what they find nestled out the back.
“We’ve got a retractable roof ready for summer. We’ve also finished upstairs redevelopment. It’s a function space where we to hope to cater to bands wanting to do listening parties – when they have a new record and want to play it for their mates kind of thing.
“We’re still finding ways to get people in, there are so many people who come here and say, ‘We didn’t know this place existed’. Starting a new venue is tough, but those people are turning into repeat customers.”
The Bergy is looking to expand the events taking place at their underused function room upstairs. The building itself, while appearing small from the outset, contains a labyrinth of untapped gems.
“Whether it’s poetry readings or arty-type things – hopefully, some gallery spaces will fill upstairs in the coming months and years. We’ve had a lot of people wanting to come in and film, which doesn’t translate to dollars, but it’s nice that people like the look of the space.”
When asked what the go-to Bergy drink is for the coming summer, Cudmore laughs.
“We’ve been doing pickle-backs. Homemade pickle juice. Richard’s parents are Polish – his Mum has this polish recipe for pickle juice and pickles – everyone seems to love them.”
If pickle juice is the summer’s drink at Bergy Seltzer, the vibe is most definitely a chilled-out sense of mirth.
“I just want it to be nice and relaxed, there are so many pretentious bars out there. I was out on Saturday night, the bartenders don’t even look happy. We’re just happy to sit here and chat with people. ‘Shoot the shit’, as they say.”
The Bergy Seltzer is open at 68 Sydney Rd Brunswick from 4pm to 1am every night. For more info, head to their Facebook page.