When faulty office equipment caused a fire that gutted Brunswick Street's Bimbo Deluxe bar-eatery last May, its owners chose to see opportunity rather than devastation.
"We've always had grand visions for the venue," says Colonial Leisure Group managing director Lawrence Dowd. "Bimbo has been a staple for everyone from uni students to tourists, who come to see the kewpie doll attached to the face of it.
"But Fitzroy's gone through a gentrification in recent years so we saw this as a chance to bring the pub forward and clean it up a bit and make it something the locals can be proud of."
When it reopened on May 22 as Bimbo (dropping "Deluxe"), the kewpie doll was almost the only thing regulars would have recognised.
Overseen by designer Rabindra Naidoo, the new-look Bimbo features a horseshoe-shaped American oak bar, pink fibreglass booths, and shiny new terrazzo floors with pink, black and white diamond detailing. A DJ booth has been built into an old, gutted plane, and a top-of-the-range sound system installed.
Local artists were commissioned for the refresh, including Elliott Routledge (known as Funskull) whose work features in the main room, and Celeste Mountjoy (aka Filthy Ratbag), who has painted a mural of a person riding a giant cat in the rooftop beer garden.
Fortunately, and perhaps crucially, the rebuild hasn't led to a hike in prices. The menu has expanded to include vegan and vegetarian dishes such as tofu fries and spiced cauliflower and chickpea puffs, but cheap pizzas (almost always on special for $4) remain Bimbo's main attraction.
Glasses of wine come in at around $9, and Bimbo's trademark infused Ketel One vodkas (in flavours like ginger, lychee, apple and coconut) are just $10 a pop.
A weekly roster of events includes live music on Tuesdays and trivia on Wednesdays. Come June, Bimbo will host Queer Deluxe on Sunday nights, featuring DJ sets and other performances from Melbourne's queer community.
Open Daily noon-late (licensed until 3am).
376 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 03 9419 8600, bimbo.melbourne