Locals leap to defend Picabar

NORTHBRIDGE’S beloved Picabar could close early next year, after the state government took over its lease.

Bar owners Melissa Bowen and Brian Buckley were told on October 25 that the Perth Theatre Trust had taken over the lease from the PICA gallery and would seek expressions of interest for the site.

The quirky boozer is situated in the old Perth Boys School, which is owned by the state government, in the Cultural Centre.

Fractured

Ms Bowen and Mr Buckley were initially told they had to clear out by November 13, but it now looks like they will have until March when the tender process starts.

The relationship between the bar owners and PICA has been described as “an interesting relationship” and “fractured” during a speech in parliament by local government minister David Templeman.

A petition to keep the Picabar, created by Alice McCullagh, amassed 6000 signatures in its first day.

“Picabar is a bustling venue in the heart of Northbridge that brings a lot of life to the area. It employs 15 people,” reads the petition.

“It is considered an artistic hub of Northbridge, but also feels welcoming to people from all walks of life.

Thriving

“In a time where hospitality venues are closing left and right, Picabar is not only thriving, but is actually attracting people to the Cultural Centre and Northbridge as a whole.

“A lot of this due to the ambience that has been created by the owners Brian Buckley and Melissa Bowen, and the hard work they have put into the venue over the last seven years.”

The petition says if the space goes out for expressions of interest, “we are concerned that the lease will then go to the highest bidder, without considering other factors…let Picabar stay in the hands of people who have a proven track record of managing the space well.

“None of us can imagine a venue using the space any better.”

Mr Templeman said in parliament: “We are negotiating with them as to a satisfactory outcome”.

He said because it’s a government-owned asset they have “legal obligations” when it comes to letting out the space.

With its chilled outdoor zone and weird beers, Picabar has become a low-key hit with locals.

by DAVID BELL

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