Melbourne’s bar scene is renowned throughout the bar scenes of both Australia and the world, and for good reason. One man across the globe who certainly noticed this was Reg Ridealgh, a London bartender who moved to Melbourne and now calls it home. His years of being a bartender inspired him to open his own bar in St Kilda called Love & Dysfunction.Having only opened recently, we got to have a chat with on how proud he is of his establishment.
How did you get into hospitality, and why do you love it so much?
Slightly by accident. A top Scottish girl who was my main drinking buddy back in the day made the escape from retail into hospitality. After a few months she pretty much hassled me every day to join her, as she loved it so much and felt I would too. As I wasn’t enjoying the way retail was heading, I thought “What the hell! ill give it a crack”, and as they say, “the rest is history!”
For the first few years, what I loved most was the opening of my eyes to just how diverse alcohol was and just how much there was to learn… and the learning, especially the practical part! Since moving to Melbourne though, it’s the community feel of being a bartender I love; I’ll always be a bartender! I really feel we are in it together here. The thirst for knowledge and the sharing really is amazing in this town!
What inspired you to open Love & Dysfunction?
There comes a point when you feel you’ve tested yourself in other peoples bars and done well long enough, that you feel it’s time to give it a crack and go it alone. I’ve always had strong opinions about how things should be done and really wanted to be able to see where having my own venue could take me.
Why did you pick St Kilda to open a bar in?
Slightly boring reason. As I was your typical bar manager, not exactly driving a Ferrari, I knew that when the day came when I could cash in my tips to open a venue of my own it would need to be close to home, as I understood and accepted that I pretty much would be working every hour there was! If the bar’s open, I’m there, and then some!
Regarding the style, I looked around at what St Kilda was missing and felt that not only does Love & Dysfunction fill a gap, but it was also the kind of venue I actually wanted to open, and one I also understood, so basically it was a perfect fit for myself and the area.
What type of atmosphere are you aiming to create at Love & Dysfunction?
A bit of a mix. I want this to be a fun, relaxed, cool and quirky type of venue, but one where the quality of the product or the customer service doesn’t get lost, which seems to happen far too often!
What are your personal favourite cocktails that you sell?
I love the true classics. The ones where the people who order them know what they are drinking and will instantly be able to tell when you’ve buggered it up! It keeps me on my toes!
Since you are from London, how do bars in Melbourne compare to London bars? Do they have anything in common or are they strikingly different?
To me, Melbourne’s bar scene equates to Hoxton and Shorditch, cool areas for bars where millions are not needed to open and where individual creativity and originality is allowed to flourish!
I do believe that London has a level of bars that can’t be matched by Melbourne in terms of the cost of putting them together, some of the figures in London just boggle the mind. But I do believe the standard of bartending and bartenders in Melbourne leaves London standing, it’s that thirst for knowledge that truly amazes me! Melbourne bartenders understand that there is always more to learn and want to learn it!
What can punters expect from Love & Dysfunction?
Ask the punters. It’s they who decide who or what we are! All we can do is to try our best to create the cool, friendly, fun, welcoming, quirky vibe we are aiming for and hope we got it right! And a silly bugger, man child of an owner, that we can guarantee!
Originally published here at barsandnightclubs.com.au on Thursday 1 October 2015