“We just want to make everyone feel really good about being here, because I feel really good about being here. So I just want everyone else to feel the same way we feel when they’re here.”
Talking to Jessica Blyth, it’s hard not to feel a similar sense of enthusiasm about Sonny’s. We’re sitting in the mostly-almost-not-quite-finished bar, surrounded by the remnants of their friends and family party over the weekend and just-delivered booze.
“We haven’t even opened yet, and it’s been so fun!”
Daisy Case, the venue’s sommelier, agrees: “I feel like it’s been the most wholesome opening.”
“You should have seen me, I literally cried!” Jess laughs, while also imitating heaving sobs, holding a hand aloft in a toast. “I… Love… You… All!“
It’s this kind of approach – nonchalantly and yet deeply caring – that characterises Sonny’s ethos. It’s the vibe of the thing.
“Even Sonny’s was just a building site, we were just over the road at the Paddo doing our emails there,” Daisy tells us. “There’s such a sense of community: we’re so excited to meet everyone, get some regulars!”
The proof is in the pudding: while we’re chatting, two locals are peering in, pressing their noses against the front door. Jess and Daisy welcome both in, giving them the run down of the venue and offer them not just a tour, but to sit down and hang out. A more cynical operator may have just shouted through the crack “Give us a follow on Instagram for updates!”, but not these guys.
The attitude extends to staff, who are approached with a sort of radical kindness fostered over years in the grind of hospitality. They’re both determined to do things differently, with Jess passionate not just about paying staff their worth, but creating a collaborative environment.
“Pay your staff more, and give them incentives. Give them a chance to be involved in the process.”
“You don’t want to work somewhere where you aren’t able to creatively collaborate – at the end of the day, there’s no heart in it. That’s how I’ve felt, if I haven’t been able to have an opinion.”
“And that goes on to service as well,” Daisy adds. “If you’re allowing people to be their authentic selves, and feel safe at work, that flows through to service – customers can feel that as well.”
You can also see this commitment in their offerings behind the bar, with a huge focus on serving female, queer and POC–made wines, spirits and beers.
The fit-out, by Fremantle studio Design Theory, has more than a hint of retro charm: we’re drawn to a glowing, orange Nesso mushroom lamp that sits atop the terrazzo bar, and there’s a sunken seating area in the corner that’s giving us ’60s conversation pit vibes.
Through the pass, you’ll spy Aaron Read’s fire-powered kitchen. Earlier in the year, the chef’s charcoal-fuelled pop-ups outside Hoodburger’s 848 wine bar took over our Instagram feeds, with plenty of tantalising photos of smokey skewers and perfectly-charred prawns. We can expect a similar focus on premium produce, alongside foraged ingredients – all perfect for sharing.
“He’s got such a good palate,” Jess raves. “He’s a genius, a creative genius.”
Up those smoked-glass stairs, there are plans to turn a work site slash office into a private dining room – with an expansive roof hopefully slated to become a rooftop bar in the future.
Sonny’s is located at 126 Hobart Street, Mount Hawthorn, and is scheduled to open from tonight, Wednesday October 19 at 3PM.