Mikey Enright opened up the Barber Shop in York Street, Sydney in 2013 - and the hybrid bar/barber shop has been buzzing ever since! The venue is an eclectic space, featuring vintage decor, traditional barber shop tools and over 450 gins.
You started out as a qualified hairdresser – what prompted your move into the bar industry?
I simply looked to young to get into Bars, so It made perfect sense to work in one instead. That’s when I realized that the Bar Industry was for me.
You started up The Barber Shop on York Street back in 2013. Where did the concept of combining a cocktail bar and barbershop come from?
I had the idea about 3 years prior to opening the The Barber Shop. Over that period, I had been researching the Barber Industry and could see the resurgence of Barber Shops. So I thought It would be great to combine both passions together and It also meant having a day Business as well as a night Business (Paying the same amount in rent right). The Bartender Vs The Barber have very separate skills but do possess Vintage methods to there trade, they should be together in my eyes.
What inspired the unique theme and décor at The Barbershop on York Street?
Barber Shops are generally a Male place; however, we welcome females to use the services too. So the Bar had to be designed with this mind. We wanted to appeal to all ages, gender, etc but also my appreciation for Gin made me feel that it would all work. We’ve got a collection of over 450 Gins and have been recognized for the Juniper Spirit. So all roads lead to Gin inspired décor in the Bar area.
You also brought out your own custom gin in 2015, working with Archie Rose to develop it. Can you describe the process you went through to develop it as a unique spirit?
We did this as a one off promotion for World Gin Day in 2015, it was a limited Winter style gin release. We blended 14 Distillates to gain this result. It actually didn’t take a long time to make the Gin with the assistance from the guys at Archie Rose. The hard part was sourcing the bottle and getting the detail for label. It was an awesome experience.
Any hospitality business owner knows that finding and retaining great staff can be challenging. What is your advice for other small bar owners on keeping and motivating a strong team?
Managing and Influencing your team is probably the hardest part of a Business owners job. We try to lead by example, give them opportunity and strong development. I do see my team as family and I think this is important to give them ownership. As I say, treat people the way you would like to treated.
You’ll be able to hear more from Mikey and a panel of other successful bar owners and operators including Harriet Leigh from Archie Rose Bar, Toby Hilton of Huberts, Jared Merlino of Lobo Platation and Mitch Wilson from Sydney Academy of Bartenders at the Commercial Drinks Speakeasy Stage presented by Winterhalter. This session will be held on Monday 11 September at 2pm on Level 1 of the ICC Sydney Exhibition Centre.
This article was included in the Fine Food Australia 2017 Newspaper. If you haven’t received a copy, you can check out the electronic version, or pick-up a copy at the show!