Wondering what happened to the old-school house party? Fear not – Ronnie Nights is now filling the void every single week.
Fremantle’s legendary reputation for being home to a busy mix of cafes, restaurants, pubs, breweries and more than a few eccentrics has earned the port city a magnetic pull that residents and tourists find almost impossible to resist. The Cappuccino Strip alone is home to alfresco diners spilling out on to the pavements in a scene not dissimilar to what we might find in Europe.
But just when you think all your hospitality and people-watching needs are met, in come the guys behind Fremantle’s Strange Company to present the Strip’s latest offering – Ronnie Nights.
The team, which includes the Travers brothers, Darcy and Clancy, Greg Leaver, Matt Giudice and Jason Townes, has injected a much-needed small bar presence on the main drag with a nod to the past and a warm embrace of party life.
“We tried to get that feel of the old Fremantle house party that we all grew up going to, where you hang around the kitchen or in the lounge with your friends before heading out the back where there’s a crew dancing,” Greg says.
With the help of leading architecture firm, spaceagency, the venue shook off its previous lives that saw it as a bike shop, fish & chip shop, and more recently Auntie G and Maya Indian restaurants.
“The venue is made up of four different rooms, so our brief to spaceagency was to have some fun with it, make each room unique, and to be a bit colourful and whimsical,” Greg explains. “The low room we actually made even lower to make it feel more intimate. I think in winter, with some comfy chairs and tables looking out on to the street, it will be the perfect spot.”
Half the building features original tiled floors and pressed tin ceilings, while the wooden staircase that goes from the bar to the second-storey lounge room is a piece of art in itself. “We polished it up a little but decided to not do too much to it,” Greg says. “It definitely has a real Fremantle feel about it.”
A curated mix of vintage furniture adorns the upstairs lounge, while handmade terrazzo bar tops give a nod to the heritage of the Italian craftsmen of Fremantle.
Keeping the main focus on bar service, Chilean chef Paula offers the perfect complement with a menu that is interesting, fast, and heavy on vegetarian options. In keeping with the casual, low-key style of the venue, customers can go up to the chef, ask about the specials of the day, and order straight from the kitchen.
With a strong focus on giving craft brewers a chance to show off what they can do, Ronnie Nights features 12 taps and bar staff that have been given free reign to explore different beers.
“Beer is becoming such an interesting field – more like wine, where you have different, complex flavours – so we want to give people the opportunity to experience that.”
More into your vino? There is a fairly small, curated wine list that is available by the glass as well as the bottle. “We’ve gone direct to the wineries, and building those relationships with winemakers has been really interesting for us,” Greg says. “The winemakers have been able to come here and run training classes with our staff, which in turn makes them so much more knowledgeable and passionate about our offerings.”
With a broad brief given to the DJs for Fridays and Saturdays, the only instruction is to create a party atmosphere. Patrons will soon be able to enjoy live music in the upstairs lounge once or twice a week.
As for the name…who doesn’t want to know? “We stole the name from a good friend,” Greg explains. “He’s a musician, a chef, and all-round good guy, and when he goes out and lets his hair down he becomes his alter-ego, Ronnie Nights. We like that attitude and thought it worked well with our venue being a place where you can be yourself and get rid of your inhibitions.”
75-77 Market Street, Fremantle
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 4pm – 11.45pm