After nearly eight years of serving local food and beverages to local people, Yazzbar owners Harvey Walsh and Penny Carlisle have officially moved on from the Yass business, handing it over to longtime manager Deb Hamilton.
Original planning would’ve seen Ms Hamilton purchase the business earlier, however with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the bar’s temporary closure in 2020 and 2021, the sale was put on hold.
With Yass Valley now comfortably out of lockdown and business currently trading well, both parties determined the time was right to seal the deal.
Mr Walsh and Ms Carlisle opened Yazzbar, at 81 Comur Street in Yass, in January 2014.
The venue was licensed to serve 20 people and was operating out of one room with a toilet. Today, the business operates at 81-85 Comur Street and runs with a commercial kitchen, a chef and live music two nights a week.
“It’s grown slowly and organically, but the essence is the same,” said Mr Walsh. “We showcase the Canberra district wines and 70 per cent of our patrons are local.”
A major focus for the pair when starting the business was to ensure it was a place women could come to feel comfortable, sensing a lack of similar venues in the area and an unmet demand for a more upscale nightspot option.
Mr Walsh expressed his pride in what Yazzbar has become today.
“It hasn’t become a place that just caters for one cohort, or one group of people, it’s inclusive and generally people can mix without feeling like they’re excluded,” he said.
Perhaps the most beloved component to Yazzbar is its live music. Centering around the jazz and blues genres, a Friday or Saturday night out at Yazzbar generally features a live performance.
“It’s been very good to support musicians,” said Mr Walsh. “The performers have done it tougher than anyone during COVID-19. They couldn’t even rehearse for a while, let alone get gigs.
“There’s something about live music that’s different to recorded music. We have live music on a Friday night, a Saturday night and again on Sunday this week. It’s just sensational and I love it. I’ve kind of rediscovered music myself listening to live music at the bar.”
Mr Walsh and Ms Carlisle will continue living upstairs and fully expect to be regulars at the bar.
He is also running in the local government election on Saturday, 4 December, for a councillor position with Yass Valley Council.