New owners, same vibe: Brunswick Street's Bimbo will reopen as Kewpie (and the $5 pizzas will stay)

After nearly 20 years, Bimbo is making way for Kewpie, a reference to the doll that's on the facade of the popular pub.
After nearly 20 years, Bimbo is making way for Kewpie, a reference to the doll that's on the facade of the popular pub. Photo: Kate Shanasy

Fitzroy's destination for cheap pizza and pints for the past two decades, Bimbo, has been snapped up by pub megagroup Australian Venue Co, who are reopening the venue as Kewpie on November 8. And there's free pizza to celebrate.

Since 2002, the venue's low prices, grungy interiors and vodkas infused with flavours from lychee to bubble tea earned it a loyal following of local students, visiting backpackers and late-night party-goers.

The pub's new name, a reference to the giant Kewpie doll that has watched over Brunswick Street since Bimbo first opened, will be the only noticeable change, according to the new owners.

Caesar salad-inspired, Mexican and cheesy steak-topped pizzas will continue to be available for as little as $5.
Caesar salad-inspired, Mexican and cheesy steak-topped pizzas will continue to be available for as little as $5. Photo: Kim Jane

"I absolutely love the heritage of this building. We want to keep as much of that as we can," says Kylie Moncur, chief marketing officer of Australian Venue Co.

That means the extensive menu of cheap pizzas is sticking around, with Caesar salad-inspired, Mexican and cheesy steak-topped rounds for as little as $5 every day. A small selection of snacks completes the food offer but Bimbo's salads, burgers and dessert pizzas got the chop in the change-over. The flavoured vodkas live on, but may not be ready in time for opening day.

Weekly events for the 350-person venue have been added, including Bump Thursdays featuring R & B and hip-hop DJs, and vinyl-focused Sunday sessions.

The venue operated for nearly 20 years as Bimbos, and was previously the legendary Punters Club live music pub.
The venue operated for nearly 20 years as Bimbos, and was previously the legendary Punters Club live music pub. Photo: Kate Shanasy

Before it was Bimbo, the corner pub operated for 15 years as the influential live music venue The Punter's Club, a launching pad for bands like You Am I and Magic Dirt in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.

In 2018, a fire shut Bimbo for 12 months, before it had to close its doors again last year when Melbourne experienced its first lockdown in March. The pub remained closed for the past 18 months, with Australian Venue Co purchasing the property in March this year. The group's other venues include the nearby Provincial Hotel, as well as O'Connell's in South Melbourne and more than 100 others across Australia.

Bimbo's sister venue Lucky Coq in Windsor remains under the control of owners Colonial Leisure Group and will be reopening in the first week of November.

But about that free pizza: Kewpie will celebrate the doors reopening by giving away 50 pizzas every weekday in its first week, starting on Monday November 8. Be there early to get yours.

Open Mon-Wed 4pm-late, Thurs-Sun 12pm-late

376 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, kewpiefitzroy.com.au