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IN THE CITY MAGAZINE
The Canberra Times | In The City Magazine | SPRING
Armed with a combined 30 years' experience
in the hospitality industry, owners Sasha
Trpkovski, Laurence Kain and Tom Hertel are
challenging the small bar culture in Canberra
by creating a new drinking establishment dissimilar of
cocktail bars and nightclubs.
Inspired by the Rolling Stones and bars from the
deep south of the United States, Honkytonks will be the
epitome of a relaxed and unpretentious bar/pub with
communal seating, an outdoor urban garden, wall art
and a creative drinks menu.
The trio, who met working in bars across Canberra,
are far from new to the bar scene having already made
their mark working in top bars in Canberra, Sydney
Working behind the bar at Hippo, which is co-owned
by Sasha, the three formed a close bond and spent
many late nights playing with the idea of opening a bar
Momentarily put on hold, as Tom began a finance
career in Sydney and Laurence worked on putting
the music festival Foreshore on the Canberra-events
calendar, the idea wasn't put into action until the
location (underneath Hippo) in Garema Place became
available at the beginning of the year.
"It's been quite a few years in planning," Sasha said.
"Being involved up here (Hippo) for 11 years,
personally I also had my eyes on downstairs."
"Our concept of what we wanted to do, you couldn't
do anywhere else in Canberra.
"Manuka and Kingston, they are more of a village
feel, which is great but really if you want to get a
feeling of living in the city, Civic is it. This is where it's
Since they were given the go-ahead from the landlord
in February this year, they have been extremely
busy organising licenses, the demolition, the design,
the construction with the help of Robbie Blazevski
of RBD Projects and the all-important drinks, food
and entertainment menu that will offer an array of
appetising food, an eclectic mix of music and a well
thought-out selection of wines, ciders and boutique
After weeks of peeling back layer upon layer of
concrete, metres of copper piping and fake ceilings left
behind from decades of various cafés and restaurants,
they were left with an unusual, characteristic space to
Working closely with design firm CapezioCopland,
they will bring together the old and the new, working
within the new carbon tax rules, salvaging what
they can from the demolition process, using recycled
furniture and buying tax credits to offset any new items
Once the bar is completed, which at this stage is
set for the end of September, the three men will be
working hard to offer the best venue in the city taking
advantage of the piazza location of Garema Place,
their extensive knowledge of quality drinks and their
vision of retaining the intimacy of a neighbourhood bar
culture amid the bustling hub of the city.
"We want to create a venue in the heart of the city
where people feel comfortable drinking late in the
evening," Tom said.
"Where they can easily find a seat and enjoy their
conversation in a vibrant atmosphere."
"Honkytonks is going to be a drinking establishment
that will really cover a broad range of what people are
doing at different times; whether it's having a glass of
wine at four after work, a couple of beers or a glass of
wine before dinner, or a place to go for glass of whisky
after the movies," Sasha said.
There are plenty of places to drink in the city, but three men are
turning the Canberra bar scene on its head with a European piazza-
style beer garden located in the heart of Civic. BY MELANIE CLARK
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