Barney Allen’s has been in operation since 2006 and is owned by Iain Hewitson (Huey to those in the land of tv world), his former wife (yes slightly Days of Our Lives like), Ruth Allen and her brother, Barney Allen.
Iain has owned many successful restaurants in Melbourne with the place before this one being Tolarno Bar and Bistro just down the road. He owned this with Ruth for fifteen years and Barney was the main man behind the bar there for the most part of its lifetime. Once Tolarno finished, the three looked for a new venture to open with their greatest wish to be in St Kilda and preferably, in Fitzroy St. So when this site at number 14, a mere 2 blocks down the road, became available there was much joy and excitement.
We like (or rather Ruth does) to say that the bar is named after Ruth and Barney, with it being Barney’s first name and Ruth’s surname. Given that they are brother and sister and have the same surname, it is actually just his whole name but our version makes her feel a little bit more special. Interestingly Barney himself was named after his great great uncle also a Barney Allen (hence the phrase “named after”) who was a well known bookmaker in the late 1800’s. Whilst the profession has somewhat doubtedly cleaned up its act, it is fair to say that if you were a bookmaker of the earlier era there was a high chance of some dodginess going on. The original Barney Allen was nicknamed The Golden King because he liked to pay in gold to his clients. Whilst our Barney may have inherited the name he certainly hasn’t inherited the dodginess.The owners place a huge value on their family life and treat the staff and local and regulars as all one big extended family.
The bar and diner is a collaborative effort of Iain, Ruth and Barney with the kitchen being Iain’s domain and Ruth and Barney focusing out the front. The concept of the place is really based around the type of place that these three would like to go to. The bar itself is designed in width to fit a main course plate so that a person or persons can eat or snack at the bar whilst reading a book, chatting to the bar staff or their friends or even making conversation with our many colourful locals. There are dining tables for the more conventional type restaurant occasion, high tables along one side of the bar that are suitable for groups and spaces available within the place that can accommodate larger groups and parties. Iain has designed the menu with smaller plates to share or snack at, as well as some more substantial main courses. There are plenty of local and imported beers available, a great selection of spirits and liqueurs, an approachable wine list of wines both by the bottle and glass as well as one of the best cocktail lists in the street.
The owners have been in the street for over twenty years now and are passionate about St Kilda and the people in it. They consider themselves old fashioned hospitality people who feel blessed to be doing what they do for a living.
Iain, Ruth and Barney welcome you to their place and hope you enjoy your experience with us.