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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 & Dining, Hideaway 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

10 reasons locals love Mermaid Beach

Mermaid Beach T-Shirts The Undercurrent
Mermaid Beach (Image: © 2021 The Undercurrent)

It’s the destination we all know and love. Relaxed, a little bit retro and constantly surprising us with new places to eat and play. It’s the much-loved suburb that flies under the radar when visitors come to town but to locals, it’s pure magic.

To show our love for this beachside beauty, here are ten things we locals love about Mermaid Beach.

The North Room
Recent receivers of a very prestigious hat, The North Room is an intimate restaurant serving up some absolutely stunning contemporary dishes that you’ll want to wrap your mouth around ASAP. Bookings are essential and they open for lunch Friday and Saturday and dinner Thursday to Saturday so you’ll want to get in quick. Huge fans of this place.
Where: 1/2527 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Little Mermaid
There’s a lot to be said about infusing a space with tropical, feel-good vibes and Little Mermaid, on the highway, has done exactly that. Decked out with plenty of greenery, a laidback beachy feel, and tons of space for all your friends this is the place to be. The bar and restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which more often than not, is overflowing with folks having the time of their lives as the sun goes down. Little Mermaid has earned the love of locals for their tasty eats, creative cocktails, and generally cool aesthetic – so get there now.
Where: 2557 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

The Borrowed Nursery
Never before has a plant nursery gained such a cult-like following so quickly (or perhaps ever). The Borrowed Nursery draws plant lovers and photographers in droves due to its Instagram-worthy aesthetics and bespoke greenery. While you can certainly purchase the potted petals for your humble abode, you may also like to hire them for an event (which is quite the concept if you ask us). The stunning space also hosts workshops and yoga classes amongst the leafy greens but if that’s not your jam at least pop in for some healthy retail therapy and an Insta-snap.
Where: 42-44 Cronulla Ave, Mermaid Beach

The Borrowed Nursery (image supplied)

Lupo
Italian food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and particularly when it comes from Mermaid’s Lupo. Tucked away in the little complex that’s also home to Bonita Bonita, Lupo’s menu is one you’ll never forget. It’s a quiet, laidback space, low-lit & moody, and did we mention one of the very best spots for drinking incredible cocktails and filling your belly with goodness.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Zeppelin Barbers
This is one for the fellas… Zeppelin Barbers is the best on the Coast if the man in your life is looking for a fresh cut. Jase and the team are absolute weapons with the scissors and they deliver quality chat and a frosty beer while they’re at it. Good vibes always.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Mermaid Beach Surf Club
How good are surf clubs? Mermaid’s is right on the ocean with uninterrupted views, delicious meals that will fill you right up, and of course, a sweet selection of drinks to sip on. It’s an amazing spot to watch the sun go down with the crew and always provides a quality atmosphere with a buzz of people.
Where: 172 Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach

Soak Bathhouse
It only opened recently but already Soak Bathhouse has become a firm favourite amongst those who are a little bit partial to some rest and relaxation in a beautiful environment (so everyone). It’s a stunning oasis featuring a magnesium pool, massage rooms, a sauna, spas, and a cold plunge pool. Plus you can get an LED facial and just generally kick your feet up and chill – tried and tested by us and we highly recommend it.
Where: 2532 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Soak Bathhouse
Soak Bathhouse (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

The Glenelg Public House
Serving up premium steak and boutique wine (among other delicious things), The Glenelg Public House is an absolute must-visit in Mermaid Beach and just generally on the Gold Coast. If for some reason you’re not into steak, everything on the menu is top-notch and they have a selection of some of the best sides we’ve ever sampled. There are also small plate options and it’s all mind-blowing. We vouch for the gnocchi. Just. Trust. Us.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Bonita Bonita
Mexican eats at their absolute finest can be found at Bonita Bonita. Taco Thursdays are a favourite amongst the locals and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options should that be your thing. Right next door is Bon Bon Bar so you should also head in there for bulk margaritas before sampling all of the epic eats on offer.
Where: 2460 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Mermaid Beach Bowls Club
Barefoot bowls is never not a fun time and so, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Mermaid Beach Bowls Club. Round up the crew on a Sunday afternoon for bulk beers and a little ball throwing (bowling) and then venture onto one of the many eateries (like those listed above) to round out the night.
Where: 2418 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Surely we have convinced you that Mermaid Beach is the place to be by now?

Words by Kirra Smith.

Bonita Bonita Flat Lay
Bonita Bonita (image supplied)

Bringing Good Vibrations to Burleigh

Unfortunately, this restaurant has now closed – but you should stick around and check out these other restaurants!

They say a change is as good as a holiday and this has certainly been the case for the latest addition to Burleigh’s foodie scene, Good Vibrations.

Formerly known as Anna Karena, the teahouse turned old school takeout has undertaken a complete transformation at the hands of owner Karina who wanted to provide great quality takeaway food in the perfect location, just a hop skip and a jump from the beach.

The vibe is reminiscent of a laidback 1980’s surf shack and the food is the kind you’d go out of your way for. Luckily though, you don’t need too.

Offering an array of burgers from the New Jersey Slider, Big Kahuna and (our fave) the Mahama Mama plus fresh fish and chips, milkshakes, coffee and the ever-elusive classic hot dog, there is literally something for everyone.

Best of all may be the fact that you can drink a delicious cold beer while you wait as part of Good Vibrations $15 Old Skool burger and (any) beer deal.

It’s the Gold Coast wrapped up in a friendly, easy to access takeaway shop and the name really does say it all.

Oh, and if you ever visited Anna Karena and sampled one of Karina’s magical cake masterpieces, you’re in luck – they’re still there.

Bye New Year diet, it was nice knowing you.

Open Tues – Fri 10am – 8pm, Sat 8am – 8pm and Sun 8am – 5pm

3/1957 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

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