Bartenders score a grant

By Alex Dalziel 

Melbourne’s first commercially-available bar laboratory has been awarded a $15,000 grant from the City of Melbourne as part of the council’s small business and social enterprise grant scheme.

Worksmith ELLA is a bar laboratory and co-working hub located in a sleek industrial space in Melbourne Central’s new ELLA food district. 

The space, which opened in June, provides those new to the hospitality industry a place to experiment and sharpen their craft, as well as meet like-minded individuals.

“Your average bartender who is starting out is not going to get access to these facilities until they move to a bar or restaurant that is top-end,” operations manager Robert Weston said. 

“The idea is that it is a safe entry point, so it’s almost like ‘hey come and try this for a few months, come see if it takes off and we’ll support you’.”

Beyond providing a space for clients to work, Worksmith also runs a number of hospitality-focused events and masterclasses. Most recently Worksmith hosted a masterclass with World Class Global Bartender of the Year winner Orlando Marzo.

The business started as a collaboration between high school friends Michael Buscetta and Roscoe Power. Michael has a history in hospitality and owns Capitano Carlton and Bar Liberty in Fitzroy, while Roscoe started his career in property development. 

In 2017 they travelled the world together looking at co-working spaces. The three started Worksmith when they returned to Melbourne, having opened their first location in Collingwood in February last year. 

“One of the really good things about the dynamic between Michael and Roscoe is that Michael has the food and beverages experience and network, and then Roscoe has the property development background,” Robert said.

“They are finding this sweet spot. That’s one of the hardest things for people in the food and beverages industry is trying to find a space and talk to property managers, and actually build a relationship.”

The small business grant will help Worksmith pay for a rotary evaporation system, a device used in chemical laboratories that has become popular among inventive bartenders to prepare unique drinks. 

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