If there’s one thing Melbourne has plenty of, it’s craft breweries. The city is teeming with trendy, boutique beers and bars to enjoy them in, from CBD spots to suburban haunts.
But the latest venture from the Moon Dog team is a cut above the rest.
Five years after the opening of their Abbotsford bar, brothers Jake and Josh Uljans along with business partner Karl van Buuren, have launched Moon Dog World. Boasting a 725-person capacity, their new Preston venue mimics the quirky playfulness of their original watering hole, but on a much larger scale (we’re talking a site the length of the MCG).
“When we first started in Abbotsford, we had one 240 square-metre place and we built a small brewery there, then we built another bar, and then another brewery next door to it,” explains van Buuren.
“But in comparison to what we’re doing now… well, there’s no comparison really. It’s definitely the biggest space we’ve ever had.”
The guys bought the old fabric manufacturing factory in December last year with the intentions of building a new brewery, but the size of the site meant they could also get creative with a new venue.
“We knew we wanted to fill the space with different sections, because we didn’t want it to be a big cavernous warehouse,” says van Buuren. “We wanted to make sure it still felt like a venue.”
“A lot of ideas came from people we were working with,” he continues. “Our designer, our tradies, and we put the call out to staff as well, who came up with some great ideas. We were open to anything and everything.”
The end result is not so much a bar as it is a playground for adults. Patrons can relax in the jungle area, kick back by the lagoon, play some pinball in the arcade room, have a boogie in the hidden shipping container disco or just chill on the upper deck and soak up the spectacle of it all.
It might sound like there’s a lot going on here, but van Buuren believes these eclectic spaces are what make Moon Dog World so unique.
“I think the main advantage is that you can come and experience it how you want to experience it,” he explains. “You could come here with your kid and pull up a couple of tables together next to the playground and still be in front of the lagoon, but then you’re not interrupting people who want to have a quiet, romantic lunch or evening meal in a hidden bar.”
“Then, if you want to come back in a group and have a proper dinner, that’s another different experience you can have in this place.”
The team haven’t skimped out on the food and beverage front either. There’s a plethora of share plates, burgers and even desserts to sink your teeth into, plus three bars with different offerings. Head to the hidden disco tiki bar for a taste of something tropical, grab a tinnie from the beer garden, or pick your poison from one of the 72 taps at the main bar.
With all this focus on the new site, Moon Dog mainstays might be wondering what the future holds for the original Abbotsford hub, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
“We were really interested to see how our original bar performed over opening weekend, and it was actually pumping,” gushes van Buuren. “I think that Abbotsford offers a very intimate Moon Dog experience and it’s quite beer-based, and we do have a big local appeal around there.”
“I thought there was maybe a risk of us sort of cannibalising that market, but this venue here [Moon Dog World] that we’ve built is so much more than just a craft beer bar. It appeals to people who don’t even like beer, who don’t even drink it, who just want to come here and have a relax next to a lagoon.”
Check out Moon Dog World at 32-46 Chifley Drive, Preston. Open seven days. More info on the rollicking new venue at moondogbrewing.com.au/world.