For Jack Timbs, a local and regular at Fortunate Son, a small bar that opened in 2019, the street is less focused on college students, like King Street, and caters to a middle-aged demographic of people in their 30s and 50s. . .
“Fortunate Son is great – the atmosphere is great, the staff makes you feel welcome, and the drinks are amazing,” he said. “Then you have Manoush for fast food, the Warren View pub. There are so many little places to go.”
Wijesena said Enmore Road’s consistent success as a late-night destination, fueled by theater as its centerpiece and a variety of diverse food and drink options, had slowly attracted more experienced hospitality businesses to the area.
One of the latest places to join the fringe this year is Bar Planet, a martini bar opened by the Mucho Aloha hospitality group behind the joint Sydney Cantina OK, Tio’s and Cliff Dive.
“What’s happening is there’s a better caliber of operators coming in, offering something that’s quality and also genuine,” Wijesena said.
The relatively cheaper rent, which drew Wijesena to the strip five years ago, also allows for a degree of experimentation. But the other part of High Street’s success has always been there: a diverse range of food offerings, prices, and entertainment.
“You can go to Porto and spend five dollars on a hamburger. You can go to Cairo Takeaway and spend $20 on a falafel plate. Keep going up to Queen Chow’s and spend $500 on Chinese food. And there’s everything in between,” Wijesena said.
“Nigerian, Egyptian, Filipino – pick a cuisine, there is probably some representation of it on the street.”
Michael Rodrigues, the state’s 24-hour economic commissioner, said he had always experienced Enmore as an inclusive and welcoming place. “That’s partly due to the types of people, but also due to variability in supply and different prices,” he said.
“What sustains it is the community approach, owners who care, owners who are reasonable. All of those things together mean that it’s a great place for people to come, not just for a special occasion, but on a regular basis as well. That’s what we’d love to describe as vibrancy: people having fun in the community.”
Wijesena said the sense of community comes from the fact that most of the people who work in the area also live there. “As a result, we all know each other. There is a real sense of community that has grown organically over 20 years. That’s something you can’t really create in a fake district.”
Lou Dowlings, who opened the P&V Cellars destination wine shop on Enmore Road five years ago, has lived in the area for nearly two decades. She remembers when the street was “struggling a bit,” but says people have been moving to smaller properties and making things happen for about a decade.
“We moved [to Enmore Road] because we love Newtown, we love Enmore, we wanted to create the space that we want to go to,” he said. “Some people who have taken over places that have disappeared or have fallen into disrepair have done so because they really love the area and want to bring it to life.”
For Dowlings, generational diversity is one of the best results. “Everyone surprises you all the time. You can’t say, ‘Oh, it’s the young people.’ It’s literally the whole world,” she said.
“You love it when a 70-year-old couple walks in and they’re like, ‘We’re going to have a date night.’ Or 19-year-olds who tell you: ‘pet nat [wines] they’re so cool.’ And then you meet them in a bar, or they go back to buy the smallest bottle of wine they can or the most expensive champagne.”
The entertainment venue trial, which begins Thursday and runs through the end of November, will add another layer to what the street has to offer.
It will allow venues to host live entertainment without red tape, extend business hours and protect them from noise complaints by funneling them through the council rather than regulators. Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne wants the changes to be permanent.
“It will mean that literally every retail store on Enmore Road can automatically host live music and cultural events without any approval process. This is what we have been fighting for for years, and it is key to taking Enmore Road to the next level,” he said.
“It’s a great time to be an Enmore resident or a visitor from somewhere else on Enmore Road.”
Local businesses are also optimistic. “You see the effect of the Enmore Theater when there’s something, no matter what it is, last week it was a Greek singer, all the restaurants are busy, everyone is coming and going,” Wijesena said.
“As long as we have a bunch of little things, and there are bands and DJs and spoken words [poetry] and comedy, whatever, then you can create this natural foot traffic.”
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