NAMED as joint winners of the Small Bar Award in the AHA Awards for Excellence, Varnish on King and Clarences both attract a loyal following.
Clarences co-owner Lloyd Smith said the small-bar scene had done wonders for Perth.
‘Collectively we are trying to create a better drinking culture in Perth,’ he said.
After travelling to Europe, he noticed how different the drinking culture was in Australia.
‘People there are drinking socially, not going out to get drunk,’ he said.
‘I’d like to see a group of 70-year-old women be able to go out and feel safe at night.’
Mr Smith is not alone. Varnish on King owner Andy Freeman agreed that it was important for bars to create a positive drinking experience.
‘We have had zero incidents so far at Varnish,’ Mr Freeman said.
‘We don’t want to try and get people hammered. We want people to go away feeling good so they will come back the next day.’
With a maximum capacity of 120 people, small bars bring with them some challenges but both owners agreed it was worth it.
‘They are small, cute, easier to manage,’ Mr Freeman said. ‘Staffing levels are more personable.’
Mr Smith said most small bars had lines outside on weekend nights.
‘We get a little bit of everyone here, a diverse spectrum of people.’
AHAWA chief executive Bradley Woods said 2014 had been a great year for WA hospitality. ‘Our venues and food and beverage offerings have been recognised nationally and internationally amongst the best of the best,’ he said.
See Opinion page 8