South Coast Chats : Q&A with The Art Bar Kiama
Culture ~ Eat and Drink ~ People ~ Trip Planning ~ What's On

South Coast Chats : Q&A with The Art Bar Kiama

Introducing this great little bar busting with a NYC vibe and attitude

  • Kate Mather
  • 2 November 2021

The Art Bar Kiama is one of those hidden gems tucked away in the backstreets of your favourite holiday destination, that you might discover one day on a walk around, or taking the wrong turn off the busy main street. It’s located near the lesser known Kiama landmark, the Little Blowhole, and has a unique position on the top of a hill, looking out across the Pacific Ocean and also back to the rolling green hills of this famous dairy farming area. 

The ‘Art Bar’ as it’s affectionately known by the locals, is probably the worst kept secret in the area now. Which is fabulous for the owners Jamie Cole and Bruce Ferguson, but not so great for the locals that can struggle to get a table at the last minute. 

What makes the Art Bar so popular?

I think it’s because it’s always changing. We change the menu every season, with different specials every week, and we change the interior every 2 months with our contemporary art shows. So you’re always going to taste and see something new when you visit.

Lots of restaurants have art in them, what’s different about your space?

We are an art gallery, as much as we are a restaurant and bar, if that makes sense? Our exhibition program is planned 18 months to two years ahead, so that we can show a broad range of work in various mediums, and to allow the artists time to put together a powerful and unique exhibition for our clients.

You have some of the best reviews in the area, what’s your secret?

Definitely our service! In a town dominated by tourism, sometimes service can suffer when you’re trying to deal with large volumes of customers. We try not to overcrowd the Art Bar, so we can look after every customer the way we like to be served when we go out. We want everyone to feel special and cared for, so they’ll come back and tell their friends as well!

How do you manage the crowds?

We encourage everyone to make bookings, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we can manage how many people are in the Art Bar and at what time. We don’t take more than two reservations in a time slot, so we can look after people when they arrive. The locals struggle with this a bit, they’re used to being just able to walk in, but they’re coming around.

The Art Bar turns 5 this year, anything special planned?

We’re going to renovate! We’ve always wanted to have a proper bar that people can dine and drink at. We have one but it’s not that comfortable and can be a bit cramped when we’re busy. So we’re going to rip out the old bar and sell the coffee machine. Heaven forbid! Don’t worry, we will still have one but it will be half the size (the coffee machine that is), which is all we need for making espresso martinis and affogatos. And we’re going to build a gorgeous new bar that we know people are going to love sitting at. We have asked our new neighbours, Lisa Papesch Architecture, to design it for us. Sadly, very sadly, the piano might go… the jury is still out on that one. 

Live music is a big part of the Art Bar, isn’t it?

Yes we love live music, so every Sunday, all year round we put it on! We mix it up with jazz curated by the Wollongong Con’ and blues from local blues musicians. Frank Sultana is a local, so you’ll often find him on the bill.

The Art Bar is open for dinner and cocktails from 5pm, Thursday to Saturday, and for lunch from midday Friday to Sunday. Live music is on every Sunday from 2.30 – 5.30pm. Definitely book ahead! Find out more and make a booking here 

UPDATE: The renovation has been completed across the 2021 lockdown and as the image above suggests its better than ever!