Romeo Lane is closing

Published on 16 June 2022

Photo: "O true apothecary!" (image care of @romeolane)

Parting is such sweet sorrow: the Crossley Street stalwart is calling last drinks this week.

Joe Jones doesn’t want you to be too sad about the (very) imminent closure of Romeo Lane, the cocktail bar he and Rita Ambroz opened at the top of the CBD in 2014. They’re going out on a high, he says, and they feel upbeat about it.

So why close at all? “It’s not the worst thing in the world, it just can’t go on this way. Basically, our building was always about as structurally stable as a house of cards to begin with,” he says. “Heritage-listed and falling apart – not that that wasn’t without its charms of course.” Construction works on for a hotel on the other side of the block are intensifying, interruptions to water and power were increasing, and when the landlord said they had only six months left at the current site, they decided to take the rip-the-Band-Aid approach and close sooner rather than later. Like, really, really soon. 

“We’ll open from 3pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday and that’ll be it,” says Jones. Expect "a short, sharp menu of hits, lots of good music and memories," plus cameos on Saturday from the likes of Felix Woods, now at Black Pearl, and Icebergs OG bar manager Steven Kirkpatrick.

Jones’ next port of call is Cucina Povera, where he’ll be setting up the cocktail situation for Maurice Terzini and Joe Vargetto ahead of opening a new bar of his own on Collins Street in the spring.  

“It’s sort of like this funny Venn diagram of work overlapping and dissolving my comfort at the moment,” he says, “but you’ve gotta hope it’s all for something.”

Romeo Lane, 1A Crossley St, Melbourne 

By Pat Nourse 

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