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Melbourne hospitality venue finds an inventive way to stay afloat

Melbourne’s Cherry Bar, famous for its live rock shows and cult following from fans of the genre, has come up with an inventive way to raise money for rent, offering a membership model program to its customers.

When the owners of Cherry Bar landed on the innovative idea of launching a membership program to stay afloat under the strain of COVID, they had only to look to their devoted band of followers.

So beloved is the inner-city bar that Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher reportedly tried to buy it in 2002, when the venue still lived on AC/DC lane.

Launching on the membership platform Patreon, co-owner James Young appealed to loyal customers who have adopted the moniker the Cherry Massive to contribute via one of four sponsorship options.

The Massive Membership, as it’s being called, is offered at $30 a month, and comes with a limited-edition medallion that gets subscribers a 15 per cent discount at the bar, among other perks. Businesses can sign up for $60. Currently, memberships are capped at 400.

There’s also a $15 per month option for non-locals, and a $5 pet subscription that comes with a warm winter coat for your dog.

While Victoria’s latest lockdown is lifting, with hospitality venues reopening with density limits in place, Mr Young made it clear that the last 18 months had put the business’s future in peril.

“We haven’t been allowed to trade anywhere near our normal capacity since mid-March last year and we’ve had to spend six months in total in lockdown here in Melbourne during this crippling time,” Mr Young said.

“The income has stopped, but the costs keep on coming.”

Mr Young counted Cherry Bar’s high rent and its 24/7 liquor licence as the highest costs incurred by the business by far.

The aim of the membership program, he said, was to simply get the cost of rent covered.

“That would alleviate so much pressure from Cherry Bar that we would be guaranteed to survive and continue supporting live, local music and rock-n-roll good times for many many years to come.”

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