A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published April 23rd 2017
The bar where everything is for sale
Pawn & Co - a strange name for a bar, you may think? That is, until you understand the concept. Pawn & Co is a bar and nightclub that is also a pawn shop. Yep, that's right, everything is for sale (except the staff!). According to its Facebook page, Pawn & Co is 'the first bar in the universe' to adopt this approach.
Recently forced from its Chapel Street home, thanks to the redevelopment of the site where it was located, Pawn & Co has landed on its feet in a new location, just around the corner in Greville Street, Prahran.
Headed by the hospitality 'man with a Midas touch', Josh Lefers, who has successfully led such ventures as Grand Trailer Park and its western suburbs sister Truck Stop Deluxe, it's no surprise that Pawn & Co has quickly re-established a solid client base.
We recently visited Pawn & Co for the second time. The first time was a Sunday at around 8pm a couple of weeks ago. Sundays are 'day spa' days - which seems to mean one big dance party that starts at 7am and goes all day (and well into the night). There is a theme for the parties - 'active wear' on the day we visited. When we arrived, the downstairs bar area was a seething mass of dancing bodies, the DJ creating a good dance energy and vibe. Check the Facebook page for the theme of the day. The upstairs bar was closed, so it was definitely not the place to go for a quiet drink.
The entrance to Pawn & Co is through a Steampunk style heavy door. You enter into a large, low light space, featuring booths on each side that look like elegant train carriage compartments from a bygone era.
At the back of the room is a long bar, where we are warmly greeted by bar manager Adam, who suggests one of their signature cocktails. Quiet at around 7.00pm on a Friday evening for our return visit, we settle into one of the comfortable booths and wait for our drinks.
A fresh retake on an Aussie classic - the Spider
I've chosen a Future Side - white rye, Suze and mint with a dash of barrel aged grappa. The drinks menu promises 'fresh and floral', and it is certainly tangy and refreshing on the palate. Dave, my partner, has gone for the Pawn & Co take on the classic Aussie Spider (soft drink and ice-cream) we loved as kids, called - ahem - Not Here to F**k Spiders. It comprises a bourbon vanilla infused vodka and a Coca-Cola reduction foam, topped with soda and a drop of rhubarb. It's sweet and slips down easily, tasting deceptively non-alcoholic. A few of those would be enough to put one in a shopping kind of mood!
The upstairs bar - where the real 'pawn' action happens
Before proceeding to round two of cocktails, we get to explore the upstairs bar, which is still closed at this early hour of the night. This is where the real 'pawn action' is evident. Scattered around the walls are cabinets containing all manner of ornaments, collectables, antiques and jewellery. Well, not just around the walls, I soon realise, as I notice guitars and other musical instruments tucked in front of the display fridges under the bar. There is even a gun cabinet!
Guns for sale!
Adam also points out the wonderful cocktail making machine, which in a former life was a church organ.
Our second round of cocktails reveals my 'drink of the night' - the Black Cherry Bob. It combines Scotch whisky and sweet vermouth with a plum and black cherry sauce - a beautifully balanced and complex tipple.
Drink of the night for me - the Black Cherry Bob.
Dave 'has' to try the 60's Pawn Star Martini. Passionfruit, black Agwa, vanilla and a dash of Red Bull is served in a classic martini glass, on a saucer on which a photo of a classic 60's porn star has been placed. Its pawn meets porn in this creative take on a classic drink.
Enough to drink - it's time to move on to one of the many restaurants in the area for a bite to eat.
I feel as though we've hardly scratched the surface of Pawn & Co. Josh Lefers tells us that at 2am, there is often a queue of eager nightclubbers stretching around the corner. The venue undergoes a metamorphic transformation at some point through the night, from sleepy bar to electric nightclub.
The good thing is, this means that regardless of your age and tastes, there will be a time when you'll enjoy a visit to Pawn & Co.
Pawn & Co is located at 177 Greville Street, Prahran (a short walk from Prahran train station). It is open on weekends only: Friday 7.00pm - 5.00am, Saturday 7.00pm - 5.00am, Sunday 7.00am - 3am.
The images in this article were taken by the writer. They are not to be reproduced in any form without the express permission of WeekendNotes.