The Gasometer Hotel, The Gem Bar: Collingwood pubs sell, live music alive and well in Melbourne

Collingwood Riot

The Gasometer Hotel is an icon on the corner of Smith St and Alexandra Pde, Collingwood. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

The leasehold of Collingwood corner fave The Gasometer Hotel has changed hands between industry players, with “good money” being invested in Melbourne’s live music scene.

Bombay Rock, Brunswick, operators Kacey Knoodle and Asher Trainor have snapped up the Gaso’s 19-year-leasehold with IT professional James Martelletti for $350,000.

Music promoter Shannon Vanderwert and Clint Fisher of Brunswick’s Retreat Hotel — who got the pub back up and running as a key fixture of the Melbourne live scene over the past seven years — passed the keys over to the new owners via CRE Brokers’ Lloyd Nunn.

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The Gaso’s bandroom.

Open air potential.

The dining area.

Mr Nunn, who listed the property as Covid took hold last year, said the new owners would continue to run the venue pretty much the same as it had been.

“They plan to use the existing demographic, which is a bit of a ‘hipster’ crowd, and focus more on indie and alternative music with a bit of punk metal and rock,” he said.

“The fact that they’ve bought into it at a very good price just shows live music isn’t dead and people are still willing to invest in live music in Melbourne.”

Mr Vanderwert said he preferred not to comment further on the sale than in a post to The Gasometer’s Facebook page welcoming the new owners and thanking those involved over the years: “We know the Gaso is in excellent hands and the tradition of live music will continue.”

He and Mr Fisher will now focus on their respective work.

Daydreams at The Gasometer.

The front bar.

Live music is back in business.

Mr Nunn has also just sold the 12-year leasehold of nearby The Gem Bar for $355,000 to The John Curtin Hotel owner Ben Russell.

He said people were “investing some good money” into live music in Melbourne and bars and pubs were doing well, with getting casual workers the biggest struggle as potential employees preferred to enjoy their Friday and Saturday nights themselves or didn’t need the money.

“It’s international students and backpackers that would be happy with a couple of shifts a week as pocket money and they aren’t here to cover those shifts,” Mr Nunn said.

The end of JobKeeper in March “didn’t have much of an impact”.

“A huge number of businesses weren’t even qualifying in the last quarter anyway because they didn’t have the losses — they’re making good money,” Mr Nunn said.

'The Gem' bar in Wellington St, Collingwood.

‘The Gem’ in Wellington St, Collingwood.

“There are no other live music venues that I know of for sale. The government grants etc did very well at keeping people going … and the average punter when going out is spending more because they’ve got more cash in their pocket.”

Mr Nunn said 5 per cent of all venues either closed or changed hands at the end of April when the moratorium on evictions was removed, but they were “more licensed cafes, cafes, small chicken shops” and family businesses with large rent — not really bars and clubs.

He noted the success of music venues weathering the Covid storm was now flowing back to pandemic-hit artists once again able to perform.

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