Fitzroy’s destination for cheap pizza and pints for the past two decades, Bimbo, has been snapped up by the Australian pub megagroup Venue Co, which reopens the place as Kewpie on November 8. And there is a free pizza to celebrate.
Since 2002, the venue’s low prices, dirty interiors, and vodkas infused with flavors ranging from lychee to bubble tea have earned it a loyal following of local college students, visiting backpackers, and late-night revelers.
The pub’s new name, a reference to the giant Kewpie doll that has watched Brunswick Street since Bimbo opened, will be the only notable change, according to the new owners.
“I love the legacy of this building. We want to keep as much of it as possible,” says Kylie Moncur, Marketing Director of Australian Venue Co.
That means the expansive menu of inexpensive pizza persists, with Caesar salad-inspired, Mexican, and cheese-inspired steak rounds for as little as $ 5 a day. A small selection of snacks rounds out the food offering, but Bimbo’s salads, burgers and dessert pizzas got the better of the change. Flavored vodkas live on, but may not be ready in time for opening day.
Weekly events for the 350-person venue have been added, including Bump Thursdays with R&B and hip-hop DJs, and vinyl-focused Sunday sessions.
Before becoming Bimbo, the local pub operated for 15 years as an influential concert venue The Punter’s Club, a launching pad for bands like You Am I and Magic Dirt in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.
In 2018, a fire shut down Bimbo for 12 months, before having to shut down again last year when Melbourne experienced its first lockdown in March. The pub has remained closed for the past 18 months with Australian Venue Co having purchased the property in March of this year. The group’s other sites include the neighboring Provincial Hotel, as well as O’Connell’s in South Melbourne and over 100 more across Australia.
Bimbo’s sister site, Lucky Coq in Windsor, remains under the control of the owners Colonial Leisure Group and will reopen during the first week of November.
But about that free pizza: Kewpie will be celebrating the reopening of doors by offering 50 pizzas each weekday in its first week, starting Monday, November 8. Be there early to get yours.
Open Mon-Wed 4 p.m.-late, Thursday-Sun 12 p.m.-late
376 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, kewpiefitzroy.com.au