The Iron Yampi is proving to be the place to be in Port Kembla, with the neighbourhood bar still growing in popularity after opening earlier this year.
The Wentworth Street venue, which is part of the Good Times Only Group, first welcomed customers in April, but despite starting the business at a quieter time of year, director Ben Abraham said it had been anything but a slow winter.
“We’re definitely busier than we thought we’d be,” he said. “We thought it would be a bit of a slow build before people understood what we were and what we stood for, but from day one it’s been chaos, which is lovely.”
The local community have turned up in droves to support the venue which has filled a gap in the market for the growing area.
“We’re finding a really tight-knit community, a lot of young families as well as a lot of people who have lived here for decades and they love the area, they love the surf break and are really eager to see something like this.”
But it’s not just locals who have discovered The Iron Yampi.
Sydneysiders are travelling to try the food and drink on offer, as well as people from neighbouring suburbs and the wider Illawarra.
Ben said that while trying to please everyone wasn’t usually a recipe for success, it had worked in this type of venue.
“There’s an outdoor space where you can just chill and bring the dog or the kids, there’s inside space where you can drink a $150 bottle of wine and eat some $45 steaks and it’s all good.”
Although the bar showed immediate success, it wasn’t an easy journey to transform the old shop into what it is today.
“It was a furniture restoration business for about four decades before we decided to build the bar here and it was a 21-month build and we touched every surface. We wanted to restore the floors – that took months, but we did it and the ceiling needed redoing.
“It was a mission to get there but we really love the finished product and are really happy with what it ended up being.”
Identifying the potential of spaces is something Ben has become quite good at, with the Good Times Only group responsible for three more of Wollongong’s popular bars.
He said it was a balance to give the individual venues their own identity without overlapping and impacting their own market, but it was all about the ‘through-line’ of the group.
“For us Good Times is good booze, exceptional service, great atmosphere, great vibe and we can carry that through no matter whether we’re doing The Prince, which has become sort of like a dance club, or The Iron Yampi, which is family friendly, because it’s the same fundamental building blocks of what we think good hospitality is.”
The group is now exploring what further opportunities The Iron Yampi has to offer while preparing for even more customers as the weather warms up.
“I think we’re in for a busy summer which will be good,” Ben said. “We’ve got a few things coming up like we’ve got a degustation dinner in a couple of weeks’ time which is our first one in here but it actually sold out in three or four days so we expect to do a few more of those.
“And we’re going to be moving into the function space a little bit so we’re going to be looking forward to being there for people’s big moments.”
To book a table or find out more visit The Iron Yampi website.