Atmosphere, experience and safety are the three of the main issues Bendigo residents focus on when planning a night out.
The city’s publicans say the evolution in Bendigo’s nightlife has seen patrons opt for smaller, more intimate venues as opposed to club atmosphere.
There has been a decrease in venues staying open to early hours of the morning with one publican saying Bendigo is following in the footsteps of Melbourne and other big regional cities when it comes to late night venues.
It means smaller venues with more live music or events and excellent service.
Andrew Lethlean, who owns Star Bar, Tap House, The Metropolitan and Four Ponies, said the city’s nightlife is not what it was.
“It is now all about the atmosphere and music. You’ve got to give people a reason to go out and people tend to want smaller, more intimate bars,” he said.
“Going back 15 or 20 years ago there were maybe six or seven late-night venues. Now there is just the four. Most hotels in Bendigo are licensed to 1am.
“There use to be 3500 or 4000 people out (on a Saturday night) but now it is between 1000 and 1500. The numbers have declined even though Bendigo’s population is increasing.”
Currently, there are just four “night club” venues in the city centre licensed beyond 1am.
Universal Nightclub and Star Bar in McCrae Street are licensed to 5am while Tap House and The Metropolitan can stay open until 3am.
Handle Bar manager Clint Bateson has worked in hospitality for seven years, starting at the now closed Black Swan.
“Things like the lock out laws played a part and so has social media,” he said.
“I consider there to be two night clubs in Bendigo (Universal and Star Bar) the other places are more like bars.”
Mr Bateson said there had been great changes in Bendigo’s club and pub scene but that Handle Bar had experienced an upturn in patrons.
“It's changed a lot. The difference now is people are looking for something different,” he said.
“People are looking for more when they go out rather than just being drunk or a lout. They go out for specific reason.
“So (for a venue) doing something different pays off. In the last six months, compared to the previous year, our patronage has increased ten fold because we have that unique atmosphere and experience.”
Mr Bateson and Mr Lethlean said patron safety was important for venues.
“We pride ourselves on making people feel comfortable and safe,” Mr Bateson said.
“As far as the taxi situation goes, the introduction of Uber has made getting a ride home a lot easier.”
Mr Lethlean said providing a safe night out with good entertainment and service was his top priority.
“It’s very important to me that we maintain what people want, which is a good night and be safe,” he said.
“We're going well by working provide safe venues by scanning IDs and getting rid of riff-raff.”
Greater Bendigo local area commander Inspector Shane Brundell said there were regular patrols of venues across the city.
“Bendigo police hit the streets at all times of the day and night in an effort to keep the entire community safe,” he said.
“This includes proactive night-time patrols in and around licensed venues in the CBD and surrounding suburbs, at taxi zones and at public transport hubs. We also have a strong focus on responsible service of alcohol.
“The CBD area is heavily covered by Safe City CCTV cameras which police have the ability to observe at all times and provide a rapid response to any incidents which may occur.”
Mr Lethlean said suburban pubs away from the city centre have lifted their game.
“Some of the suburban pubs are doing it extremely well,” he said.
National Hotel owner Bruce Morcon said his venue had never chased the nightlife crowd, opting to provide a food-driven atmosphere with occasional live music.
“We just keep a good clean pub and have a ‘no d**kheads’ policy it’s as simple as that for us,” he said.
“We like to make it family and people friendly. People come here for a reason whether it is a function, a feed or a bit of acoustic music.
“(Functions) give us so much repeat business being close vicinity to the CBD helps. But if you can’t have a good night by 11pm, you’re probably not going to (after 11pm).”
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