Pavement Whispers: Pawn & Co, a nightclub where everything is for sale, is opening soon in The Valley
Pavement Whispers: Pawn & Co, a nightclub where everything is for sale, is opening soon in The Valley

Pavement Whispers: Pawn & Co, a nightclub where everything is for sale, is opening soon in The Valley

A lot of thought goes into the design of a space, particularly the decor. If done well, guests might be encouraged to take inspiration for their own home decorating – they may even look up the designers, artists or furniture brands that contribute to a space and source some pieces for themselves. At Pawn & Co, a world-first club of curiosities opening soon in The Valley, if you see something you like, you can buy it – then and there. Boasting a list of interactive carnival-inspired cocktails, an in-house perfumery and a mechanical snow globe bar, this immersive retail and cocktail experience is shaping up to be unlike anything else we’ve seen. Here’s what we know …

When Josh Lefers, Stephen Wools and Steve Thomas opened Pawn & Co on Chapel Street in Prahran 11 years ago, it caused a stir. A bar where everything is for sale, even the business itself? It was an unheard of prospect at the time, but it worked. Melbourne’s discerning drinkers flocked through Pawn & Co’s doors to check it out and the bar even ended up being mentioned in the pages of Forbes. “Forbes Magazine wrote about us and said we were one of the five most dazzling new bars in the world,” recalls Josh, with a smile. “That’s what they said! We weren’t, as we often joked to ourselves, but we were very interesting to people – a pawn-shop nightclub where everything’s for sale at all times.” More than a decade on and the bar is still going strong (it now operates in a new space on Greville Street), proving that it was much more than a gimmick. Now, as it enters its second decade of existence, Pawn & Co is embarking on an antiques roadshow, of sorts. Later this year the team will open a new location here in Brisbane, taking over the Ann Street site previously home to Laruche and turning it into a new wonderland of beats, bang-on cocktails and big-ticket auction items – offering an experience the crew is dubbing ‘pure pawn’.

The two-level space (with fit-out being undertaken by Lowry Group) will be accoutred similarly to any pawn shop – kitschy curiosities and imported one-of-a-kind finds will decorate the space, with elaborate custom fixtures also on offer for those with deep pockets. “Everything’s for sale at all times – even the business,” says Stephen. “If someone comes in with a big fat cheque and wants to buy the business on the spot, they can buy it.” Over the years Pawn & Co has had punters drop a packet on everything from ride-on lawnmowers to an old baby grand piano converted into a DJ Booth. It’ll be the same deal here, with a similarly diverse array of wares on offer. Pawn & Co’s stock (all affixed with QR codes to give you a history of each object) will also be advertised on eBay to ensure a constant turnover of stock. “We’ll have a really nice balance of the older antiques and collectibles, as well as newer retail stuff that’s part of the experiential component,” says Josh. “We’ll also do exhibition-style events, where we’ll have pawn items that are going to be draw cards that you can come and see.”

Pawn & Co’s Brisbane expansion will see the group ratchet up the experience a few notches, fusing entertainment and hospitality into one stand-out experience. “We’re taking the brand a little bit further down the rabbit hole with the pawn-shop concept,” says Stephen. “We’re getting a little bit more odd, weird and exciting with it.” Pawn & Co Brisbane will also boast its own perfumery (which will craft scents for sale as retail outside of the club), a mechanical snow globe (that moves between levels) housing its own cocktail experience, and a small automated nail salon. Josh and Stephen, who have both spent ten years working amongst the Melbourne club scene, will be curating a killer weekly music program for nighthawks to party to. A roster of top-notch DJs will propel bodies into motion via a brand-new sound system, but those seeking a quiet moment can retreat to the outdoor space, which breaks out into Bakery Lane. As for the drinks, Pawn & Co’s cocktail list will be imbued with a raft of interactive aspects. “We’ve got a film and TV background, so we work with set builders all the time on what we do,” Stephen tells us. “We’ll work with a lot of our props builders to come up with unique interactive cocktail concepts that are very carnival inspired, to give people that ‘wow’ experience.” With a proven track record of creative concepts under their belts, Stephen and Josh have emerged as pioneers of the experiential nightlife wave, which is becoming a defining trend of Brisbane’s post-pandemic hospitality scene. As part of the group also opening Ballers Clubhouse on Wickham Street next year, the duo clearly believes that hospitality needs to be much more than offering a comfy seat and a cold schooner. “That collision between hospitality and entertainment – this ‘hospotainment’ vibe – it’s not just about drinking anymore,” says Stephen. “You’ve got to put more in front of consumers. You’ve got to work harder. But it’s what we love doing.”

Pawn & Co is targeting a December launch. Stay tuned for updates on its progress and solidified opening date.

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


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