When is a bottle shop not a bottle shop? Well, it helps when you build it around a giant shed.
Locals know Penny Young in Moonee Ponds as both a mecca for beer lovers wanting to cruise the shelves and a bustling beer-hall in which to linger over a pint. Stocking more than 350 craft brews, the “shop” also offers wine, cocktails, live music and pizza at its bar next door. When owner Anthony Bongiovanni first laid eyes on the site (which once housed a fruit and vegetable wholesaler) on the corner of Penny Lane and Young Street, he could sense its potential. He opened the liquor store in 2014; the wine bar and beer-hall came in 2018.
“I fell in love with the character of the huge back shed,” says Bongiovanni. “It’s made from red brick and has big beams inside. So I built the vision for my wine bar and beer-hall around it.”
The bottle store is located on Young Street, while the entrance to the wine bar and beer-hall is tucked down a side lane. Bongiovanni has been careful to maintain the heritage feel of the site while including modern comforts, like a retractable roof over the beer garden.
“We’re licensed for 200 people, and we’re always busy,” he says. “We’ve got 18 craft beers on tap which change practically every day and we’re making in excess of a thousand pizzas a week.”
Bongiovanni grew up in nearby Niddrie, and spent his younger years working in his father’s bottle shop. After running a string of successful businesses around Melbourne and Geelong for a decade, he decided to return to his home turf, where he found business booming.
“I’ve seen a heap of change and growth over my lifetime,” says Bongiovanni. “As the older generation pass on, young families and professionals are moving in. It’s like a mini city, and we’re just eight kilometres from the CBD. Everything we need for a good life is here.”
Penny Young is just one of the lures of Moonee Ponds. Here’s our guide to other bottle shops and bars in the suburb.
Sir Duke – Puckle Street
Sir Duke is an all-day diner that has been bringing a touch of class to Puckle Street since 2017. Waiters roam the bright, pastel-pink and yellow room in tailored grey aprons that complement the central rendered concrete bench. At 3pm, when the bar opens, they start delivering cocktails, beers and wines to customers settled in creamy brown leather banquettes. Notably, none of the beers come from more than 35 kilometres away, and the wines are all Victorian. A carefully crafted cocktail menu offers a range of tipples for just $12 each.
The Valley Cellar Door – Hall Street
Brothers Mark and Tony Pendreich are the brains behind this bar and bottle shop on Hall Street, where customers can order by the glass or select one of the 230 bottles of wine from the wood-clad walls to drink in-house or take away. There are also 150 kinds of craft beer available, as well as six on tap that are rotated weekly, covering everything from dark Belgian ales to crisp easy-drinkers. Up to 60 ciders are available each week too. If you’re not interested in the in-house selection of pizza, cheese, antipasto or charcuterie, you can take advantage of the BYO food policy by bringing your own or ordering takeaway from nearby restaurants.
The Boathouse – The Boulevard
Sitting along the Maribyrnong River inside picturesque Maribyrnong Park, The Boathouse is a local institution here in the warmer months. Its outdoor deck is a great spot to enjoy a drink or two even on the hottest summer days, thanks to an abundance of shady gums and wattle trees. There are burgers, pizzas, salads and fresh seafood on the menu, and a modest but well-thought-out selection of beer, wine and cocktails.
Strangeloves Wine Bar – Mount Alexander Road
Chris and Nikki Exell are the husband-and-wife duo behind this cosy little wine bar on Mount Alexander Road, which has been welcoming Moonee Ponds locals since 2010. The bar’s wine list features nearly 500 wines, and has been awarded “two glasses” by Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards. It also stocks an exceptional collection of whiskies and gins. With intimate seating, conversation-level music, and a kitchen serving a tasting menu that’s perfect for sharing (including a “Fancy Pants” cheese selection with baked brie and baked camembert), it’s the ideal date location.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Caydon Property. See details of Caydon Property's new Focus of Mason apartment development, in Mason Sq, at the heart of Moonee Ponds.