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Molly is leaving the building.

Emma Macdonald

In the times of prohibition, speakeasies frequently popped up and vanished, only to pop up again somewhere else.

And we’re hoping Canberra’s Molly does the same.

Yes, it’s true, Molly is leaving the building.

It is possible that when it closes later this month, the legendary underground bar may still have some latecomers wandering around Hobart Place in the city, trying to find it for the first time.

With no signage and only the map coordinates of -35° 16′ 46.45″ S – 149° 7′ 35.23″ E to go by, part of the appeal of this most beloved of inner-city haunts, was knowing which non-descript timber door in to open in the dead of night.

When Ant Arena and his Molly partners Dean Brown and Lorenzo Focarile announced on Monday morning that Molly was moving—last drinks from 4pm on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 October—the Facebook post prompted an outpouring of emotion.
Hundreds of sad-face emoticons and laments of an era past were posted. Sadly, development is to blame, with the building currently standing above the hallowed bar now due for redevelopment.

The guys—who also operate The Highball Express and Black Market and just this week unveiled to HerCanberra that their neon-lit, karaoke-infused, eighties extravaganza, 88mph was on its way—were a little surprised at the reaction.

“We saw it just went off the moment it was posted.”

“It reaffirmed for us that we should definitely consider building a new Molly—but the only way we’ll do it, is if we can make it even more special—we have some ideas” say Ant.

The Canberra-born University of Canberra graduate left town for a stint in Sydney working in some of the city’s foremost marketing agencies, but even he was a little nervous at first about opening a place with no signage, and not telling anyone where it was.

“Yeah, not everybody loved it, including the guy who had a big rant telling me he spent 90 minutes looking for it in the rain. All I can say is that if you are prepared to look for 90 minutes in the rain then you must really want to find it—such is the power of a new discovery.”

Few have found the hype misleading and Molly has garnered the most loyal of followings.

“We have put a lot into training and developing our staff. We look after them and they know how to deliver not just great service, but a great experience, which keeps people coming back”.

And with the slight issue of having to rediscover a secret location all over again Ant, Dean and Lorenzo are confident their loyal Molly customers will be happy to track down their favourite bar once again. Hopefully not too far away.

the essential:
What: Molly’s Last Drinks.
When: 4pm on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th October.
Where: If you don’t know by now, it’s probably too late to find out now!

Images: Daniel Spellman

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism – including a Walkley or two – along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials.

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