Scott Imlach

Scott Imlach has the midas touch when it comes to opening venues locals love and he’s about try his hand again with the opening of Nightjar, a dive bar in Burleigh Heads.

We chat to the man who brought you Barchino, Nobby’s Arc, Bine Bar & DiningHideaway Kitchen & Bar and Soho Place about what it takes to create these gems and what we can expect from the Burleigh newbie. 

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
Probably 12 or 13 years now. I was in Melbourne for a year before I came here and in London for 10 years before that.

What made you decide to open your first venue here?
I was just looking to open a business of my own when we got Barchino. I always worked in big companies and came across Barchino, I liked the location and the fact it was a locals’ place and I really wanted that. There was no such thing as bars back in those days, about 12 years ago, so I thought I’d give restaurants a go. I opened Freshly Stacked in Broadbeach next (a burger restaurant) then Nobbys Arc, Bine, Hideaway and Soho after that.

Where do you come up with ideas?
I travel a lot and pick up ideas for little bars, I always take lots of photos and get a picture in my head and run with it. I love coming up with unique ideas that haven’t been done before. I look at magazines throughout the world and keep in contact with friends overseas to see what’s hot and what’s not. When I find an idea I just go after it.

Why do you think people love what you do so much?
I think it’s because our venues are a bit more laid back; they’re not up really up market. We look for the right staff to manage each venue and my Managers are all really friendly and like working for a small business. I try to keep my them all pretty reasonably priced and I also try to make people feel welcome – Bine for instance is a very local bar, I definitely try to create that local feel.

What can we expect from Nightjar? 
Nightjar is an unusual bar design I saw in the States. It’s an idea I’ve always had in the back of my head but it was never really my style. I’m doing it anyway obviously. It’s going to be a dive bar – we’ve teamed up with Sailor Jerry and used quite a bit of their artwork. Everyone on the Coast is starting to ban tattoos but we’re not doing that. It’s very casual, just walk straight in off the beach, wear whatever you like. It’s going to have a real locals feel about it. We’ve gone for that really grungy vibe, let your hair down and away you go. There’ll be live music, a good range of cocktails and the fitout is very bespoke, Steampunk 1950’s American tattoo art-style. We should be open early October.

Why did you decide to open up the Coast’s first small bar?
I’ve always wanted to do bars and I think the Coast is lacking good ones. Personally I like to go have a drink but I don’t really like going to pubs. I prefer to go to a smaller venue where you can meet local people and have a drink with them. I wanted somewhere I could go myself that’s why I decided to just do it.

What do you think about our rapidly expanding hospitality scene?
I think it’s good; everyone’s coming up with new ideas at the moment and really going the extra mile. We’re catching up to the big cities now. The suburbs are starting to boom and I think that has a lot to do with people being able to walk to restaurants. The Coast is just getting better and better with a lot more options and it’s going to keep growing. 

Do you have any other plans in the pipeline?
I wouldn’t mind opening a restaurant in Brisbane, probably another Hideaway. I’d like to do that in next 12 months. I’ve been scared of the big cities previously but now I think with the way Hideaway is going, it’s good enough to hit the Brisbane market. After that I think I’ll stop.

Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Back yourself. Have faith in yourself and don’t doubt your ideas but be flexible. Give anything a go once and don’t be afraid.

Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your favourites…
Café: Honey Bee and Saint in Mermaid Beach
Restaurant: I like Gemellini at Nobby’s Beach
Beach: You can’t go past Burleigh
Weekend hang: I go to Cambus Wallace a lot but if I’m just chilling out I go down to Byron Bay