BRENDON Sim worked in a skate shop before starting Bar Lafayette with three friends at Brookfield Place in 2012. Seven years later, he is now the sole owner and is nominated for a new category in this year’s WA Small Bar Awards that will be announced on June 10. Vote for your favourite bar at sbawa.com.au.
1.What is the criteria for the Smells Like a Small Bar category?
We started with a small bar licence that allowed us to have 120 pax at a time but we’re a big venue so we updated our licence and are now a 200 capacity venue. So we feel like a small bar but can fit more people. We still have the personalised service and bespoke quality drinks and never lost our identity with the change
2. How do awards like these support the small bar industry?
The Small Bar Awards acknowledges the hospitality crew who work long hours and late nights. Having these awards gives credit to everyone that works in hospitality. We do it because we love it.
3. How has the small bar scene evolved in Perth since Bar Lafayette opened in 2012?
The quality of the bartenders has improved remarkably and the quality of female bartenders in particular. The key is to be consistent and know your product, never lose sight of why you do it. It’s been really tough the past 24-36 months and it’s been the survival of the fittest but we are lucky to be in an amazing precinct. As our landlords, Brookfield really support us.
4. How have you overcome challenges in small business over the years?
Because of my background (working in a skate shop) my focus from the beginning was customer service. I was originally going to be a silent partner but realised quickly I couldn’t do that so I learnt everything I could about food, drinks, cocktails and spirits. But it was always about what the customer wanted. Having the right team is also super important and creating a venue where your staff want to come and they’re proud to work there. Offering prices that match the current market and developing relationships has also helped us succeed.
5. What is your local coffee shop?
Basilica. The guys look after me and they have great coffee.