Bar opening to cap off footy star’s milestone

A wine bar co-owned by Max Gawn in a century-old auction house is set to open the day the star Melbourne ruckman notches his 100th AFL game.

Gawn and his business partner Richard Donovan — operator of Malvern cafe Saint James — leased part of Young’s Auction House in Hawthorn East last year, and are in the process of transforming their portion into the East End Wine Bar.

Mr Donovan said the venue would open to the public at midday on March 23.

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The Dees take on Port Adelaide at the MCG in Round 1 of the 2019 AFL season that afternoon, with 99-gamer Gawn poised to notch a three-figure milestone.

The Camberwell Rd auction house closed in 2015, after eight decades in the hands of antique dealers the Young family, and was split into two shop fronts.

The other half was leased by James Klapanis, of Hawthorn East Vietnamese eatery St Cloud, and opened as restaurant and bar Young’s Wine Rooms last month.

English expat Mr Donovan said the building was in “bad shape” and requiring “a lot of work” when he and Gawn took it on, but they’d been lured by its history.

Their “Old English-style” bar will have capacity for 130 people across an intimate indoor space and alfresco courtyard, and also feature a bottle shop.

Mr Donovan said drops from across the globe would be served, along with foods suited for wine pairing such as charcuterie boards, tinned fish, cheese and pizzas.

Gawn, an All Australian ruckman, also operates food truck the Bearded Jaffle with his brothers.

“He’s got a distinct interest in wine — we drink a lot of wine together in the off-season when he’s not playing,” Mr Donovan said.

Young’s Wine Rooms — a separate business to East End Wine Bar — features a range of dining and drinking spaces including a dedicated cocktail bar and alfresco internal courtyard, and an interior that reflects the building’s history.

Its menu draws on Mediterranean flavours.

“The success of St Cloud proves just how ripe the area is for quality hospitality venues that are a dime a dozen in the CBD,” Mr Klapanis said.

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