Pavement Whispers: Gerard’s Bar has closed, but will reopen soon with a new name, new owners and a new lease on life

Pavement Whispers: Gerard’s Bar has closed, but will reopen soon with a new name, new owners and a new lease on life

After ten years of damn-good drinks, a long-time staple of James Street’s after-dark scene is closing. The team behind Gerard’s Bar – a beloved spot for killer cocktails, choice charcuterie and one of Brisbane’s best cheeseburgers – has sold the venue to new operators and soon, the space will be reborn as something fresh. Here’s what we know …

It’s been a big 12 months for Johnny and Elie Moubarak. After spending a good portion of last year revitalising their groundbreaking restaurant Gerard’s, the duo is taking another big step – they’ve sold the venue’s cherished cocktail-centric offshoot, Gerard’s Bar.

Ten years is a great innings for any boozer, but the sudden closure of Gerard’s Bar might sting for those that have spent many nights perched at the joint’s concrete bar or gathered under the ponciana tree out front. Like its restaurant sibling, Gerard’s Bar was a bit of a pioneer. When it launched, it helped spark a mini charcuterie revolution. Dangling cuts of house-cured artisan meats in the front window were manually sliced to order, served alongside gourmet cheeses and house-pickled vegetables.

In recent years, the venue fortified its connection with its sister space, serving pared-back Lebanese-inspired dishes like fattet hummus with barberries and smoked butter, fried chicken with harissa mayonnaise and pickles, and manoushe fresh from the custom-built woodfire grill. And we can’t forget the wagyu cheeseburger – a juicy two-hander that earned (and retained) a spot amongst Brisbane’s best.

But, all good things must come to an end. According to Johnny Moubarak, the timing feels right.

“The restaurant, it’s kind of home and where I belong,” says Johnny. “So letting go of the bar, although it is bittersweet, it’s not that sad for me.”

That’s not to say he isn’t proud of what the bar accomplished in its decade-long innings – Johnny fondly remembers much of what made Gerard’s special in the beginning.

“The bar was a really, really unique project,” reflects Johnny. “We made our own charcuterie and our own cold cuts, and I think I can safely say we pioneered a little bit of that genre. We were definitely one of the first in Queensland.”

Then there was FOOD LAB, the monthly dinner series that saw chefs and bartenders collaborate on a five-course menu and drinks offering based on a different theme with a playlist to match.

“I think it was a bold move,” Johnny says with a laugh. “We do a lot of bold moves, don’t we?”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for James Street bar hoppers – Gerard’s Bar has been sold to new owners Justinn De Beer and Mark Rodrigues. Justinn, a prominent figure in the Brisbane bar scene and long-time friend of the Moubaraks, worked with the brothers in the early days of Laruche before going on to open beloved drinking dens like Brooklyn Standard and wine and cocktail bar Hello Gorgeous.

The duo is currently in the process of giving the Gerard’s space a new identity and Justinn informs us that, very soon, the bar will be reborn as Gerrie’s. He’s tight-lipped on what will be on offer for now, but urges everyone to “watch this space”.

“It’s being passed over to friends who are really amazing operators,” says Johnny, “So it’s going to be in really good hands. It’s about passing it over to someone who is good – if not better – than us, and I think we’ve done that.”

“I’m actually really excited to go and drink at someone else’s venue.”

We’ll have more info on Gerrie’s soon.

The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.

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