Multi-national favourite and award-winning bar Employees Only is set to open in Sydney this November, bringing a slice of the Big Apple to Sydney’s nightlife. With other acclaimed branches in Hong Kong, Singapore and Miami, Employees Only will bring an unmistakable sense of worldliness and decadence to Sydney’s shores, while holding onto elements of the New York space which made Employees Only the global institution it has become.
The New York branch is famous for its phenomenal cocktails and fine dining, all the while being housed in a sultry speakeasy-style (and photo-worthy) venue. Housed in the West Village, Employees Only offers a gourmet menu and state of the art beverages all folded into an Art Deco style space with an edge. It’s one of those venues you’d never discover on your own, but once you’ve been filled in you’ll be finding an excuse to keep going back. Employees Only is lauded for its speed of service, professionality and undeniable fun, and if projections are right, Sydney’s outpost will be just as remarkable.
“New York is the bar that is great every night of the week, every month of the year, in every kind of weather. It’s one of the most consistently fun places in the world”, says Robert Krueger from the New York Employees Only team. “It’s this energy that we’re really wanting to bring to Sydney.
The name of the bar comes from the idea that looking after those in the hospitality and service industry is equally important as caring for the customers, and it’s this very attitude that makes the space so much fun – bartender or buyer. What this also means is that in every city Employees Only graces, the venue caters to tastes of the local hospitality scene.
The Sydney speakeasy will be fronted by co-founder Dushan Zaric, who created the flagship in New York in 2014, with industry friends Henry La Fargue, Igor Hadzismajlovic, Jason Kosmas and Bill Gilroy. Sydney-Sider Anna Fang has also joined the team as the venue manager.
Located below Barrack Street, in the space itself, the bartenders will be situated right in the thick of it, behind the curved brass bar but close to the guests and the action. The dining room seats 30 patrons and is a perfect space for indulging in the curated, luxury menu. Due to the unique, basement nature of the Sydney venue, there were both freedoms and hindrances for designing the space. However, what the team have come up with is both premium and down to earth – epitomising fun with a hint of cheek and seduction.
The Sydney menu will include aspects from the New York offering, however avoids any suggestion that this is the latest cookie-cutter outpost of a global franschise. “We never want to create a copy and paste venue,” says Kreuger. “We tailor the concept to the city.” Hence the soon-to-be-released bistro and bar menu will feature both classics and new creations, all created by head chef Aurelien Girault and featuring a range of flavours, ingredients, cuisines and cultures, to satisfy the adventurous and well-conditioned Sydney palate. Sydneysiders will be thrilled, however, to hear that the famous steak tartare will be firmly fixed on the new menu, plus other favourites, including the pancetta wrapped lamb chops with salsa verde, the bone marrow popper in a feather-light pastry shell and the house made cavatelli.
In terms of cocktails, the bar has imported the New York classics but with a twist for Australian patrons. Guests can expect to see menu favourites such as the Amelia – vodka, elderflower liqueur, pureed blackberries and fresh lemon – and the Provençal – lavender-infused gin, stirred with Herbs de Provence infused vermouth and Cointreau – which will join an influx of equally exciting, newly created libations.
With the intention to be a jolt to Sydney’s bar scene, the Employees Only team have plans to reawaken locals’ love for secret bars from day one. “We’re excited to work with the incredible local bar community, helping to reinvigorate Sydney’s nightlife and bring it back onto the global stage.” says Krueger.