With bright, cosy decor, a menu of dumplings, schnitzel and deep fried cheese and a soundtrack of jazz, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd, new lower Crown Street bar Moominn isn’t like any other in Wollongong.
The just-opened venue is the brainchild of couple Barbora Sterbova and Arron Choi – who have combined their Czech and Chinese backgrounds to create a quirky drinking hole full of their favourite things.
For instance, Ms Sterbova said the warm yellow and orange walls, mismatched wooden tables and chairs, patterned table runners, stacked-high bar and packed gallery walls have all been chosen to make patrons feel as though they’re stepping into a little bar in Prague, instead of Wollongong.
“But then we’ve also included Chinese lanterns are stuff like that, so it’s like a little bit of both of us,” Ms Sterbova said.
“The menu is half Czech, half Asian – so you have dumplings but then Czech pork schnitzel and this fried cheese – which is like, very Czech and amazing.”
“We just wanted it to be a comfortable environment – you know how in Friends and all those sitcoms they always have a home away from home,” Mr Choi said.
This will be achieved, they say, through a soundtrack of jazz and rock classics which are kept at a level “for people who want to come in and have a conversation”.
“For Czech people, there’s a culture where you might come in and drink for hours but it’s much more controlled – you can have dinner, and you might have two bottles of wine, but over four or five hours,” Ms Sterbova said.
“I’m also so excited for Christmas, because we want to have the full decked-out Czech Christmas theme.”
For the young couple – aged 24 and 31 – opening the bar has also been a way to make sure they can stay living and working in Wollongong.
Both University of Wollongong graduates who worked in HR and market research, they made the decision a year ago to give away the corporate life.
“I was travelling up everyday, and it was like five hours of commuting on top of trying to get ahead,” Mr Choi said.
“We both always wanted to do hospitality, but thought it would be the right thing to get a degree – but in my last year we wanted to open a bar,” Ms Sterbova said.
Already, they say Wollongong’s growing community of local bars, cafes and shops has embraced Moominn (which is named for Ms Sterbova’s childhood nickname).
“Everyone has been really welcoming, and I think there’s a real sense that everyone appreciates locals trying something new,” she said.
“I also love the trend of young people who want to do something and aren’t scared to try it out.”