Now. One day at the office (the Bala) Fred came up with an idea, that I should interview Bartenders and do the old Playboy interview thing, with a drawing of the subject for each interview. I loved it, so this is the first one. I can/t think of a title for this segment, so if you ave a title for a segment with interviews with bartenders please message the Facebook or email me.
Kicking off the new segment is one of my favourite Landlords and also someone im happy to call a mate, and that’s Jules of Misery Guts fame. I thought she looked familiar when I first went in, and Jules recognized me from when I’d have the odd one at the Charles Dickon’s Hotel in the city. Anyway, one night I was walking by Grey St and I saw my mate Megan out the front and I waved to her, in return she grabbed my arm and said you ave to see the new room. Unaware that I hadn’t seen any room. I popped me head in sat at the bar and thought this place is cool. In beautiful downtown Grey street is this nice little spot, met a bunch of people ive only ever seen inside the four walls and Jules is a great landlord, looks after those that look after her. Jules, along with Mel Sean and Baily ave always treated me well and it’s a top spot whether to meet someone for a beer, sit by yourself killing an arvo, or to watch a band. Couldn’t think of a better person to kick this new section.
Munster: so you were pretty much raised on the hospitality industry?
Jules: That’s true. So my parents owned the Charles Dickins Tavern on Collins Street in the basement of the block arcade, which has a 24 hours licence which you can’t get any more there so rare. We were like the unofficial Manchester United supporters club my dad was mad for them. My dad had George Best original photographs, thousands of dollars’ worth. He was a mad George Best follower, he would stay open till 4am. It would be empty and then at 3am on a Monday morning it would be packed with 300 crazy fanatics drinking pints and pints and pints and if Manchester won glasses would be thrown tables overturned. There were other teams, Tottenham, Melbourne Victory and of course AFL he was a mad Carlton supporter so it was a big sports bar but they’d have suites there. That’s where I cut my teeth I was in the kitchen from 13 years old making salads for everyone. At the stroke of midnight of me turning 18 I was pouring pints. I worked for my dad off and on for ten years then I worked in various Melbourne pubs. My mum was the backbone, no one ever saw her but she was there every morning at 7am doing the books and all those things that get missed from a lot of people. It was the two of them, 50-50 but dad was the face of the joint.
Munster: wow with a 24/7 licence you sure would have seen all kinds of characters, good bad and ugly.
Jules: I don’t know, from a young age I’d see people just change over a couple of hours, whether it was good or bad. I’m fascinated by human behaviour. Whether it causes fights or someone makes you laugh or hit on. I don’t know where it comes from but it’s in my genes. I like watching humans do their thing being passionate having arguments, like watching them eat and drink and making choices what they’re going to do post work. I like watching, like why are you doing this why are you wearing this and why are you hanging out with this person, why do you have a Mohawk? We had a really big punk scene as well, I don’t know it’s interesting to me.
Munster: So Misery Guts, how did that come about?
Jules: well drunk obviously (laughs). Who’s crazy enough to start a bar? My history is in design and fashion which I done a bunch of. I figured I love design but it’s not for me. What’s my other passion and what do I know, where does my knowledge lie, and that’s hospitality. And it’s always been interesting to me. I’ve always enjoyed the interval of bars and pubs from my travels, I’ve noticed it seems to be an interest so I thought I’d have a go because it’s all I know, but also I didn’t know. You know you start and you think you have a lot of knowledge when you start, it’s a steep learning curb, but you meet some awesome people and it makes this location interesting. (Fred enters).
Munster: why did you wanna open in St Kilda?
Jules: I grew up in the south east and when I turned 18 I started hanging round St Kilda. I went to school here too. I knew the area but I’d been living in the CBD for six years then Collingwood. So my knowledge of present day St Kilda wasn’t vast as it is now. I knew the streets and the history. This property was the fifth or sixth place I seriously looked at we searched for a year before we found a place. The building ticked the boxes, right size right price lease terms, I can get a liquor licence and a planning permit, so this was where I was gonna do it.
Munster: what inspired the name?
Jules: my dad’s nickname for me, it’s a mutual thing. Its funny people that don’t know me too well are like ah as if your misery guts and I say just wait a few minutes or an hour or a couple of weeks and you’ll see I’m a misery guts. As is my dad, it’s just a nickname that comes from dad and it’s a loveable term between him and me
Munster: Spend any amount of time with me and that nickname might stick too.
Jules: a lot of people say why would you call a bar Misery Guts and it’s like you’re not the right person for here. Then people laugh and love it and they get the joke, well there my people. It definitely polarizes people.
Munster: on the website you list MG as St Kildas independent watering hole and catering for locals, is that pretty much what your mission statement was?
Jules: I probably wrote that not fully knowing what I was getting myself in for. It’s not something I tried to do intentionally. I just meant that it’s a neighbourhood bar for regular people, and a bar I wanted to go to. And that’s all I can do, there’s are no pretences about this place. I’d like to think I was smart enough to do it on purpose not knowing the gravity of those terms, a local neighbourhood watering hole and that’s what it’s become. I don’t know if it’s because of that, or because of the attitude. I’m not gonna make something that’s fake. I’m glad that’s what’s happened I don’t want any riff raff that goes to garden state and there’s plenty of places like that. We need more places you can call a second living room, where you can bring your dog and listen to some guitar and drink some piss. That’s what it’s about.
Munster: and you do have plenty of regulars, Trent, Geezer, Phil and Biff to name a few, and while they might go other places I think they all think of this as a second living room
Jules: absolute but I can’t take 100% credit for that. I was lucky enough to have been introduced to Ruth Allen. She became a good friend but also a mentor through the first year which was paramount to this bars success. I was introduced to a lot of that crew, I figured they would have sussed this place out eventually. She brought a lot of those faces here. You can do your social media and marketing for days but nothing is stronger than word of mouth. And the right people showed up.
Munster: Being here for almost four years is an amazing achievement, what do you put that down too?
Jules: I think being here as often as I am. People say Jules you need a break or get a manager, sure I was lucky enough to go to Europe for a month last year which made me feel spoilt. You gotta be here speck to your people and be here for em. I know a lot of big pub groups that have a lot of people involved and deep pockets that’s not me. I figure if you’re gonna own a bar why wouldn’t you want to be here as often as possible? That’s how you cultivate friendship and relationships you get to know your people and your street. It’s a difficult street and corner, we’re on the corner of the crisis centre. You have to be here but I have wonderful staff, I’m so grateful to Sean and Baily and Mel. At the end of the day Misery Guts is me and I’m the face, so I have to be here. Like any job there are days you don’t want to come into work, I used to come because of the job now I come in because I want to see the people, I want to see you I want to see Biff I want to see Trent in want to see Tim Rogers walk in when he does. Its so satisfying, it’s the best.
Munster: Aside from the regulars you also have Tim and Mick from the Draught Dodgers, JVG and even Paul Kelly’s been here?
Jules: oh man when he came in I served this man in a baseball hat and glasses, and Trent said you ok Jules, and I said yeah why, and he said you just served Paul Kelly. I lost all feeling from waist down, like what? And there he was so unassuming in his baseball cap. He’s been in a few times had a photo had a chat.
Munster: I was talking to Tim inside and we both said how when we were kids we wanted to be Sam Malone or Moe from the Simpsons. As a kid I always wanted to own a pub, so what’s it like running one, is it dream?
Jules: I feel you could ask me that everyday and I’d have a different answer. Most day’s its pretty awesome. You run a different race to everyone else, you’re going to bed when everyone’s getting up, you get Mondays off so you have places to yourself, people work on Mondays so you can’t hang out with your friends usually. But it’s pretty cool to build an awesome community I hate that word but I gotta say it. The people I’ve met the people that have fallen in love in my bar. Having had Chris Cheney perform at my birthday The Draught Dodges, heaps of people, and the local heroes the people that make St Kilda tick and alive, the people that will stay after a gig and drink and keep local joints going. That’s what counts that what’s motivates me to get up and do my thing and put on a smile
Munster: What’s been the highlight of running the place so far?
Jules: the third birthday and my birthday having Chris Chaney and also the Draught Dodgers. I remember when we hit the first birthday it was like how did this happen. Then came the second and third and I thought ok this isn’t a fluke. And it’s the people that made that happen.
Munster: Now I usually ask people what their favourite Fall LP is to end, but since it’s a bartender segment I should ask something else, so what’s your favourite drink we’ll go with to end on?
Jules: had you asked me that a year ago I would have said I
hate tequila but something has happened to me in the last year and I don’t
stray away from some really good top shelf tequila shots, a Misery Guts
margarita which I’d like to say is a cult favourite now and of course I’m a
sucker for a proper Champagne. And vodka and I suppose when I’m hungover a long
island ice tea, it goes on (laughs)