Mana Bar Melbourne Closes Its Doors

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Mana Bar Melbourne Closes Its Doors

September will be the last chance for Melbournians to get a drink at the videogame-themed bar.

The Mana Bar is an Australian videogame-themed bar spearheaded by Guy "Yug" Blomberg, Pras Moorthy and our own Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. Unfortunately, it looks as if the Melbourne branch of the bar is closing its doors for good. "We're closing the Melbourne bar in September, for various reasons, which we're not ready to talk about yet." said Megan Betteridge, Mana Bar Melbourne's brand manager.

The first Mana Bar opened up in Brisbane in 2010, and its smashing success led to plans for Sydney, Melbourne and possibly even international locations. While the Sydney Mana Bar still hasn't materialized, the Melbourne Mana Bar opened its doors on 16 July 2011.

The Mana Bar premises on Brunswick St recently went up for lease, and with Betteridge's confirmation, it looks like September will be the last chance for Melbournians to grab a drink and play some Call of Duty. "There weren't enough people coming into the bar, we ran out of options," claims Betteridge.

She says there are no plans to open another bar in a different location in Melbourne, and the Mana Bar team is moving out of the city "for good". The original Brisbane branch will remain open.

Guy Blomberg, one of the three founders of The Mana Bar told Kotaku Australia: "I honestly don't have much to do with Mana Bar anymore, PAX Aus takes up all of my time these days."

Despite being from Melbourne myself, I never actually got a chance to check out the Mana Bar. How about you guys? Will you be sad to see it go?

Source: Kotaku Australia

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That sucks. Was hoping to go to one of these if I ever went to Australia sometime ever (I doubt it though). At least the other one's still open.

Awww that suck's :(
I wonder what happened to make it close down?
Was buisness really that bad?
Hopefully Yahtzee will do a video on it!

I live in Melbourne and went to this bar.

I'm not surprised it went out of business. The bar was small, its not really an internet cafe where you can play infinite games with others, and its a bit weird going to a bar to play games. Also, the drinks were all very expensive, which is normal for bars in the city.

It's a shame, but having been there when on holiday in Melbourne recently I'm not surprised. I went there with my mate on a Thursday night and the place was empty. It was very small though, I think the Brisbane one is a lot bigger and more profitable.

Seems like a bad idea, all things considered.

Games are becoming more and more something you do from home. Why pay money to play games and then pay for more expensive drinks THEN need to pay for parking/cab fare back home?

If you're into games so much that you'd want to mix it with your drinking you'll have a setup at home where you would invite others over to your place to drink and game.

Sunset industry if ever there was one, sorry.

Melbourne, huh?
Well I didn't go, but I do want to go visit ONE of the Mana Bars one of these days.

Just for the experience that is.
Other then that it seems pointless since I'm not into alcohol.

Steven Bogos:

Despite being from Melbourne myself, I never actually got a chance to check out the Mana Bar. How about you guys? Will you be sad to see it go?

Me too. It's one of those things I've been going to "get around to doing". Being a married father of three makes it a bit more difficult than in my youth to check out new bars. Plus I don't think my wife would be too thrilled me taking her there for a night out.

Brunswick St is chock full of hipsters so if it was going to survive anywhere it would be there, so I'm a little surprised that it bombed. That said there are a lot of really good bars in that area.

I guess I'll have to make a concerted effort to go have a drink there prior to it closing.

Sad to see another establishment close, but the location really stunk. The place was just so tiny and uncomfortable.

I did appreciate what it did but overall I'm not surprised at how it turned out.

Being from Canada and not being able to afford to travel I've never been able to partake in the Mana Bar experience. Still shame to see this branch go I suppose.

Eh, for a place named "mana" bar, I'd not expect call of duty to be the game of choice. I definitely dislike the image of the "videogame bar" and the "COD bar" being one and the same cause it perpetuates the image that that's all games are. If I went to a mana bar I'd expect RPs and blue drinks resembling potions and a bartender speaking in ye old english or something. Not a bunch of people playing shooters.

At least the bar in Brisbane will remain open. I'd hate to see something so fairly unique disappear entirely. Sadly, I live in America: a fair ways away from any and all Mana Bars.

Dreiko:
Eh, for a place named "mana" bar, I'd not expect call of duty to be the game of choice. I definitely dislike the image of the "videogame bar" and the "COD bar" being one and the same cause it perpetuates the image that that's all games are. If I went to a mana bar I'd expect RPs and blue drinks resembling potions and a bartender speaking in ye old english or something. Not a bunch of people playing shooters.

You sure that's not just a line in the article that was entirely throw-away and you over-thinking it? :P

OT:

Sounds like it wasn't a good location and had size problems. Hope the original remains in business, that's about as much as one could ask for I imagine.

Sucks to hear this, but I had a feeling this would be its fate from the time I first heard about it, I'm honestly surprised it lasted this long. The world just isn't ready for videogame bars yet. Bars with arcades attached, maybe, but not bars with free videogames as the main draw.

Incidentally, some of the bars in college towns have what's called a "barcraft" night every now and then, where they put up Starcraft streams on the TV and bring college kids in the way other bars do for UFC fights and the Superbowl. I think I've heard of them doing LoL and Dota 2 streams, too. Thing is, it's not the focus of the bar, it's a side thing on what I'm sure is a regular sports bar 99% of the time.

This really is the issue with most 'theme' bars. If its new, its great. But in the end people have bored of it. You can drink and game at home. I'm sure something like this would go great over in Japan or South Korea. Super heavy populations in techy societies with lots and lots of gamers. It could probably survive there. The case here though is evident. Kinda a shame, but, the people have spoken.

Can't wait to see our resident Trilby enthusiasts next crazy adventure.

I went to the Melbourne one last year when I flew over to Aussie from Canada to watch some AFL games. Like others have mentioned, it was a very small place and I walked by it twice before I found it. It was around the size of an average sized coffee shop

Sounds like the initial success drove them to overreach, perhaps? I wish them success for their main establishment in Brisbane.

I believe this is how society falls and the Mad Max era begins.

>.>

I've never really cared about Mana Bar beyond Yahtzee's involvement. I like the idea in theory, but I was never going to go in the first place.

Steven Bogos:
snipped for length

They just posted on their facebook wall that they are attempting to relocate or continue. So hopefully that would come to pass.

I was there for comic con at the begining of july and to be honest, I found it was a really good place to just relax and socialise. I enjoyed the time that I spent there, randomly challenging people to whatever game they were playing at the time and just chatting away with them while we played. Never knew em, still dont. But it was a good experience.

I never looked to be aiming to be something big, as many people are expecting, but definetely a place to really just get out of the house for a bit to stay.

EDIT- They also want to do a "Save your mana" event from the 27th to the 31st of August to try and help this come to pass.

so to recap:

- the bar was too small.
- the drinks were overpriced.
- the bar closed too early.(11 pm)
- you dont go to bars just to play games. (hook up etc.)
- the games were mostly occupied by others.
- not that much drinks to choose from.

okay

Inco:

Steven Bogos:
snipped for length

They just posted on their facebook wall that they are attempting to relocate or continue. So hopefully that would come to pass.

I was there for comic con at the begining of july and to be honest, I found it was a really good place to just relax and socialise. I enjoyed the time that I spent there, randomly challenging people to whatever game they were playing at the time and just chatting away with them while we played. Never knew em, still dont. But it was a good experience.

I never looked to be aiming to be something big, as many people are expecting, but definetely a place to really just get out of the house for a bit to stay.

EDIT- They also want to do a "Save your mana" event from the 27th to the 31st of August to try and help this come to pass.

Hi. I can't seem to find this post anywhere on the facebook page. Do you have a link?

Running a bar is an unforgiving business. It is really difficult. Bars usually don't last very long. From a statistical point of view this isn't surprising. It's still bad news nonetheless.

Abomination:
Seems like a bad idea, all things considered.

Games are becoming more and more something you do from home. Why pay money to play games and then pay for more expensive drinks THEN need to pay for parking/cab fare back home?

If you're into games so much that you'd want to mix it with your drinking you'll have a setup at home where you would invite others over to your place to drink and game.

Sunset industry if ever there was one, sorry.

I respectfully disagree. Console, PC and mobile gaming has become so omnipresent in society that you can't really stereotype "the gamer". We're far away from the nerd/home gamer cliché of the 80s and 90s today, and most really active gamers I know have a pretty active social life and would love to go out AND do so in a game-themed environment, interact with other gamers.

Much rather, I think they plainly overextended themselves, expanded to quickly. Possibly some personal issues between people as well since this seems to be a fairly small venture between friends, mostly. Also, if any gastronomic establishment - be it a bar, a restaurant or just a burger joint on the corner - is run badly, the consequences usually hit immediately and hard. The concept was good (after all, the main branch seems to run really well), but the execution in this particular location was seemingly flawed.

This is sad, but honestly not unexpected. I was a Brisbane local for the last four years (you can see me standing in line in the photo of opening night... I didn't get in though :{ ) and visited the Melbourne bar when I was down there for Nightwish earlier this year. It wasn't any more dead than the Brisbane bar would've been at that time, but I know the Brisbane bar packs out completely on trivia nights (like, the whole place is shoulder-to-shoulder with people. They need to ban fat people on trivia night (loljk)). I guess Melbourne didn't have the best location... the expensive drinks is a problem at both places though.

Also, I like that both the bars are located on Brunswick st. Makes it easy to remember.

The worst thing for me was the closing time. We went out for for someones birthday one time, with the goal to visit the Mana Bar afterwards. The restaurant was maybe 5 mins from the bar. We still couldn't make it in time. A bar shouldn't close that early. That and the capacity.

Heard about this one, apparently it was depressingly small, expensive and was closed before the night even got started... I understand there are limitations to your venue but that just isn't a place I would want to go.

It's probably best to first find a place to stretch your legs rather then just get in for the brand sake.

Does the main branch close that early as well? Pretty surprised to see a bar last for over 2 years when it closes at 11.

canadamus_prime:
I've never been able to partake in the Mana Bar experience.

Grab a couple of your favourite beverages and a handheld then shut yourself in a closet for a few hours.

Novelty bars are a risky proposition in general. Novelty bars whose novelty is something easily and cheaply done at home are pretty much nonstarters. To cover the cost of the novelty (in this case, games) you've either got to have a cover charge (which raises the barrier to entry and effectively shuts out most walk-ins) or raise refreshment prices considerably (which annoys people as demonstrated above). You might get lucky, but the odds are against you.

Tiamattt:
Does the main branch close that early as well? Pretty surprised to see a bar last for over 2 years when it closes at 11.

Last time I was in Brisbane the whole town closed at 9.00. I couldn't even find a take away place open after then on a Sunday night. I'm sure things have changed in twenty years though.

Melbourne is a bar town, they had a hell of a lot of competition, would probably have done better in a cheaper less terrible location. Closing the same time most people are starting to head out for the night wouldn't have helped.

"...for various reasons, which we're not ready to talk about yet."
Fair enough.
"There weren't enough people coming into the bar, we ran out of options,"
Wait... I could swear that would be considered a reason.

The Brisbane one is actually pretty good. I don't think they are in horrible straits or anything.

octafish:
Melbourne is a bar town, they had a hell of a lot of competition, would probably have done better in a cheaper less terrible location.

The bar scene in Melbourne is downright Darwinian at times (Charlie not the Territory), especially when the market for retail/(whatever boozers are categorised as) properties has heated up... and the market for those sorts of properties in Melbourne is always in flux (as in the ebb and flow cycle is majorly compressed compared to the rest of the property market).

I think the way to go for the melbourne branch would be subletting a function room or saloon bar from an inner city pub on weekends (or thu-sat nights) or some pub popular with the young'uns... maybe a boozer near a uni. Hell, see if some uni bar is up for striking a deal. (*note to self... talk to Adelaide Uni student union prez about shit involving used consoles and used tvs for gaming nights! Bring in gaming socs and remind him of the advice I gave him about how to kick Resistance off campus. Also request Flying Fox from uni bar to back gates due to university no smoking policy)

Closing the same time most people are starting to head out for the night wouldn't have helped.

Yeah, that sure as fuck wouldn't help. Personally I'm no way near drunk enough to pay for overpriced cocktails before (at least) 2am... if at all (2am is the minimum for buying overpriced cocktails for interesting lasses... I have to be absolutely shitfaced to order one for myself instead of treating myself to a nice topshelf bourbon or, if available, a rye).

This bar was a quick cash grab at the concept. the location was tiny, too small for the atmosphere it wanted to build. their was so little thought into the deployment of this franchise.

Couple that with the stigma of trying to get the stereotypical gamers out of their bedrooms to come visit the bar? It had a lot of problems.

The Brisbane bar is far superior to the Melbourne bar and i think it will carry on for a while yet. This whole idea wasn't as massive a success as the trio were hoping though.

Damn. The company I work for has an office near there and I was hoping to visit the next time a trip opportunity came about. Looks like I'll be out of luck. I actually don't mind smaller establishments, so that wouldn't have bothered me.I guess I would have to experience it to really judge.

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