Why don’t the best bars clone themselves the way restaurants do?

Whatever you call them — clone bars, chain bars, outposts — you don't see it as often, for a reason.

Why don’t the best bars clone themselves the way restaurants do?
Centro 86 in Sydney. Photo: Boothby

Why is it we don’t see outposts of successful bars as often as we do in the restaurant world?

You know the type: think Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth; Totti’s in Bondi and the Sydney CBD, and in Lorne on the Victorian south coast; the Lucas group’s Chin Chin in Melbourne and Sydney; and in the less expensive realm, places like Mamak in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

You see it less with bars. The Speakeasy Group is well known for it: in both Melbourne and Sydney there is an Eau de Vie, Nick & Nora’s, and a Mjolner. Other than that? Gerald’s Bar in Melbourne has a San Sebastián outpost, but I’m struggling to think of another example in Australia. But there are more from overseas.

The idea is this: a bar sees some success, maybe some big awards; the operators then go and open that same bar and concept — with the same name — in another location. The outpost bar might open in a different city in the same country (see Eau de Vie, Death & Co), in a different country (Employees Only), but sometimes, just in another part of town (see the different Bar Swifts in three London locations — or should that be, like attorneys general, Bars Swift?).

And another high-flying bar has opened an outpost.