Having lived in the Summer Hill area for years, Alex Fensham and his friend Martin Hocknell often found themselves complaining about the lack of local bars to catch up in. After hearing this sentiment reflected by their neighbours, they decided to do something about it. Ciao spoke to Alex about what it means to be a community meeting place…
“We basically built this bar on good will,” says Alex, speaking about the eighty odd community members who donated their skills and time to the project, with local tradesmen such as the plumber and electrician doing the work for almost nothing. According to Alex, being built on a budget of “next to nothing by the community” is one of the biggest things that sets The Temperance Society apart. “It was a community project, we were leading it, but it was really driven by the community,” he says.
The low budget also influenced the design of the bar, with reclaimed and recycled materials an ongoing theme throughout the space. Despite this, they managed to pull off an effortless and classy finish.
“We wanted it to look modern and put together, not like everything had been dumpster dived. Even though it had been,” says Alex.
Refurbishing a heritage building also brought it’s own challenges, with the pair keen to honour the site. “We wanted a fit out that was timeless,” he said.
The local focus didn’t just stop when the bar opened, however. In their taps you will find only local brews, in the cocktails you can expect local spirits and of the twelve gins on their liquor shelf, only one isn’t Australian.
And when asked what the best thing about his job is, Alex couldn’t forget his community roots; “Seeing people who have lived on the same street for years who come into the bar and get to know each other. You get to see how a simple bar can be the catalyst in a positive community forming.”
The Temperance Society is located at 122 Smith St, Summer Hill.