One of Australia’s largest pub groups, Australian Venue Co, has plans underway to bring the best of Melbourne’s pubs and bar outdoors this summer through extended open-air seating across 30 local venues.

Discussions are underway with the innovative team at City of Melbourne to bring dining spaces and socially safe beer garden pop-ups in rooftop parking lots, riverside terraces, iconic laneways and major CBD streets, inviting Melburnians to rediscover all they know and love about their favourite pubs under the new COVID- normal. This would be in consultation with key stakeholders, the community and residents of the city.

However, with news of blanket capacity restrictions for outdoor dining in regional Victoria this has cast doubt over the viability of these plans if metropolitan Melbourne is to follow the same capacity limitations.

Venues such as Hopscotch, Imperial Bourke, Wharf Hotel, Trinket and European Bier Café have potential for perfect summer alfresco dining.

Any proposed changes would be subject to consultation with Council, taking into account impacts on local residents, safety, accessibility and city amenity.

CEO Paul Waterson has said a crucial element to making the Government outdoor dining plan successful will be ability to have multiple outdoor spaces activated with capped capacity.

“Effectively the Government announced venues can have one outdoor space of 50 people per venue in regional Victoria. Such a restriction would fundamentally change the ability to activate the city at scale.

“After what has undeniably been the most challenging of times, to be able to get our staff back to work and do what we do best – serve Melbourne, is exciting. However, based on the current regional areas re-opening restrictions, Melbourne venues will need to be allowed increased, yet socially safe, capacities across multiple outdoor areas to make the concept viable.

“This summer will be like no other, so we want to bring the very best of our pubs to the streets and laneways across Melbourne. We are feeling positive to be working on these plans with City of Melbourne to create outdoor dining experiences for Melbournians to enjoy,” Mr Waterson said.

From casual bistro to picnic tables, pods to deck chairs, guests will be able to appreciate a range of tailored settings with their meal and refreshments. Streets that will have been quiet for too long will once again be alive with the sounds of diners enjoying their city.

The AVC concept will also celebrate all things ‘Melbourne’. Supporting local producers and suppliers, from food to craft beers, inspired dining experiences will be created in each venue.

Melbourne’s dining scene will look very different this summer, but with outdoor spaces activated to create new settings, guests can enjoy what they have been missing for so long as hospitality takes its first step towards recovery.

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