When Supermild owner Sam Lisy closed the doors and handed the keys back to the venue of one of South Australia’s most iconic late night venues, she refused to accept the dream was over. After a 16 year residency in the West End of Hindley Street, their lease came up and their landlord didn’t offer the opportunity of renewal.
It was an announcement that caught many by surprise, with that surprise quickly turning to anger and disappointment. The venue went out with one last hurrah, hitting capacity the minute the doors opened, with the friends inside dancing into the wee hours of the next morning.
But, a couple of months later and Lisy & the team, rather family – as she calls it, stepped foot into their new space a few hundred metres down the road and began the six month journey which would see the rebirth of the favourite late night haunt.
Frustratingly, that six month journey was one that featured more delays than a Tiger Airways flight. “We actually couldn’t do any fit out until about two months prior to opening” says Lisy. “If I knew then what I know now, I don’t think I would have actually gone ahead with all of it because it’s just been headache after headache after headache.”
“We needed to get development approval from Adelaide City Council. So to get your liquor licence you obviously need to apply and advertise, but part of that application process is getting approval from the council. That has been our biggest hurdle (so far), not because they had problems with what we are doing, but just because it takes so long. There’s a lot of sitting around and waiting.”
It took a good part of two months for their application to even get noticed, “I did try to get up in their face a bit” says Lisy. But despite the delays, she says the council have been amazing to work with, “people look surprised to hear me say that, but they’ve actually been brilliant and very supportive, they’re helping me out as much as they can.”
“Where I went wrong was I went with a private certifier, whereas if I had just stuck with the council and gone through the processes with them, I wouldn’t have half the problems I have now.”
“Because I went privately, there were certain legislation issues they couldn’t help me out with, but as far as getting everything processed and sorted, they’ve been amazing. I’ve been really impressed with they way they’ve handled it.”
The reason Lisy went through a private certifier was because, somewhat ironically, a person from the council mentioned that doing so might actually help speed the process up. It’s a move that Lisy accepts was incorrect and suggests that working with the council is the best approach, “I should actually set up a consultancy service because at the time I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.”
“I’ve run Supermild for a long time, but back when I took over it was just a process of transferring a licence. This time it was relocating a business and because I didn’t know what I was doing, that’s what ate up a lot of my time. It has been a very steep learning curve.”
The 5am lock-out time that the venue is so famous for is still up in the air, with their current trading hours finishing at 2am – the peak time for many who are looking to keep kickin’ on. “I’ve applied for an entertainment venue licence, because I want to get that 5 o’clock finish. But the small bar licence has made it a lot easier for small venues to open, which is good and I like what the council has done with that.”
Lisy believes that the key to the new iteration of Supermild is keeping the core elements of what made the old place tick, “I was worried it would lose its charm, but so far it has been good. Everyone has been so positive and it’s made me realise it’s more about the people involved that have made the place.”
The reopening of the venue started off exactly how it finished, hitting capacity within minutes of the doors opening. “At the moment it gets a little bit clogged when everyone comes in, and people have been complaining that there isn’t a bar downstairs, but that’s because I am only allowed to have 50 people down there. So if I put a bar in there, people will be uncomfortable.”
And Lisy says there is still more to come, “At the moment there’s another area that isn’t yet open, which is the third level and that will have decking to make it feel like a beer garden. There’ll be another bar there, but we haven’t opened it yet because we’ve had to put acoustic treatment on the walls because of the hotel (The Grand Chancellor) who are a bit concerned about noise, which so far hasn’t been an issue.”
And for those of you who love Supermild so much you want to spend your daylight hours there, there’s good news; “we’re going to bring a daytime element in as well. We’re trying to keep the old Supermild but blend in a bit more new” says Lisy.
“Once the operation is at full whack it’s going to be so much fun” exclaims an obviously excited and proud Sam Lisy.
Supermild’s new home is 73a Hindley Street, Adelaide. Follow their upcoming events via their Facebook.