Future uncertain for La Sirène Brewing

Following its temporary closure last month, La Sirène Brewing has reopened its brewery and taproom, but is facing another hurdle where it may be forced to find a new location.

The news comes after the business, along with 13 other traders within the Melbourne Innovation Centre (MIC), were forced to leave the premises after traces of asbestos were found by the City of Darebin council. 

Following this, MIC successfully took the council to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, seeking an injunction to allow all businesses within the centre to return, pending approval by WorkSafe and the Environmental Protect Agency, as reported by The Age. 

The tenants were able to return last week, leaving La Sirène to prepare for its reopening over the weekend. 

However, MIC has now terminated its contract with council, giving the business, along with many other traders, 90 days notice to vacate a location that has been its home for over 12 years. 

“You simply can’t just relocate a brewery overnight or in 90 days,” founder Eva Nikias told Brews News. “MIC and Council are well aware of this. We hope to be able to have a reasonable chat with them about this soon.

“We have been so humbled by the support extended out by staff, family, friends, suppliers, local community, wider community, the media, local and federal government representatives and the industry in general. 

“We really hope to come out the other side stronger and reinvigorated, our first step will be to hopefully have some reasonable conversations with Council, otherwise we have been given till the 17th of April by MIC to move a whole brewery to god knows where.”

Over the course of its temporary closure, amongst many other impacts, the business lost two months of wholesale and bar revenue during peak production season. 

“We had to tell staff that there were no operations or workplace to turn up to the next day,” Nikias explained. 

“No orders and deliveries could be fulfilled except a little online stock we had access to in a different location.”

Beer in tanks was left to spoil and supplier relationships were left impacted due to the disruption of production.  

“It was very disorientating and debilitating, there were no signs leading up to this,” Nikias continued. 

“We had just had the high and elation of opening the Bar La Sirène Taproom just eight weeks prior and to say our bubble burst is an understatement. We were floored and devastated. 

“We went from running a vibrant business, confident about our direction to a complete stand still, we were brought down to our knees.”

In terms of compensation, Nikias said the business only received part of a $20,000 crisis grant from the City of Darebin council, which was shared amongst all businesses impacted at the site. Each received approximately $1,300. 

As the business works towards catching up in sales and production, Nikias has urged the community to continue its support. 

“Now that we have access to our brewery and taproom there is so much everyone can do,” she said. 

“Visiting our taproom, asking for and buying our beers at your local stockist, ordering online directly from our website. These things will all make a huge impact. 

“We have had very understanding suppliers that have been very supportive, so getting our sales back to normal is crucial to our survival so we can keep creating.”

Despite these tumultuous hurdles, Nikias explained the business is hopeful for the future and looks towards conversing with the council in securing its location. 

“Our hopes are to stabilise the business after such a shell shock and to be able to negotiate a lease directly with Council. 

“Longer term we hope to keep innovating and bolstering La Sirène, to continue to grow and delight all of our customers and community with our commitment to creativity in the beer, beverage and now, the hospitality space.”

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