There’s something special about a great bar. It has that ‘just lazin’ round’ kind of feeling, like it’s cool not to try too hard, when really everyone’s working their butts off! That’s how it feels at Bar 11. Uber-cool, already it’s fitting into Southport just nicely!
The nostalgia we may feel about Southport doesn’t cut it as dining numbers, so it’s good to see fresh changes for the better in the CBD – openings in Metro, and the change brought to the new Sundale complex by the opening of Bar 11. Now there are places to go in Southport!
It’s especially exciting since that change is brought to us by Richie Dia, a Japanese-born chef turned entrepreneur with an eye for detail.
In 2006 Richie started his own business specialising in hospitality industry consulting (including the design of New York-style bars such as Donny’s Bar and 84 Union St., staff recruitment and training), cooking for dignitaries such as James Packer along the way, more recently moving from Sydney to his wife’s hometown Gold Coast to show off his talent.
“I love intimate bars that have atmosphere and live music; places that are all about the service,” Richie tells us. We agree!
“Bar 11 is designed so you can see what the chefs and bar staff are doing, watching them cook dumplings or make a Sticky date espresso. I learned about engaging customers from Japan, and how important that is. Hygiene control and engagement are tied up with transparency as well,” he says.
Walk into any bar around the world, from the US to Ireland, and there’s often stuff to look at – bits and pieces of collectabilia that form eye candy for the masses, or should I say for the curious.
“I’ve been on the Gold Coast for two years now, but I never stop collecting and designing,” says Richie.
Bar 11, the eleventh bar Richie has opened (and it’s at No.11) is like a museum full of ‘collectables’. Furniture has been completely recycled or custom-repurposed from steel to house original hinges, railway sleepers and farm machinery.
The beamless hanging roof structure above the long copper chef’s bar is a work of genius. Take your eyes off the crispy chicken tacos, and overhead you’ll see 18th century handcuffs, original railway gate locks …
“The cuffs and locks bring the idea of harmony…” I raise my eyebrow at Richie’s comment… “We’re locked into the experience, engaged with it…” I get it, sort of…keeping my imagination on the gate locks…
But what I do really get is the experience itself; people having a place to gather where they can chat as a couple overlooking the Broadwater, as an after work party group being as raucous and jokey as they want or like us on another day catching up for lunch over smart modern Oz-Asian bar food: juicy wagyu sliders, handmade dumplings to dip in sauce, pork belly-filled bao and delicious crispy chicken tacos sit alongside larger gastropub-style meals. The bar may not be large but it’s big enough for outside or in, small or many…even for someone flying solo at the bar catching up on the goss’.
“There were no bars in this area, so I wanted to show Southport what an international standard bar and service could be like,” says Richie.
He’s made every attempt to entice locals in with weekday specials for lunch and snacks and live music on the weekends. Now, all the effort’s paying off, resulting in a bar where it’s all happening – maybe not New York, but thankfully Gold Coast style!
Specials: Mon – Wed 50c. wings & $1 dumplings; Thurs $10 cocktails; Daily lunch specials $12.90.
11/2 Como Cres, Southport Ph: 07 5676 9763
Open: Mon – Sun 10am – 12midnight
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Bar 11.