Worksmith, a unique co-working space aimed at Melbourne’s hospitality community, recently opened in Collingwood – filling a gap in the industry and providing a vital location for collaboration and entrepreneurialism.
Co-founded by Michael Bascetta and Roscoe Power, Worksmith is aimed at hospitality professionals and updates the traditional co-working setup of shared desks and meeting rooms with the addition of an 11-metre-long bar, providing the perfect platform for masterclasses, tastings and other events.
“The net of hospitality is actually pretty far-reaching – a lot of people think hospitality and they think chefs, waiters and the like, and might think ‘why the hell do they need a workspace?’, Bascetta told BARS&clubs.
“For us, it’s far greater than that in terms of people who contribute to the industry, so people from hospitality marketing to design, right through to spirits and wine distributors and producers, point of sale operators… we’ve even got a restaurant team of 10 that’s in there at the moment waiting for their build to finish – it’s a pretty big breadth of people.”
It was Bascetta – co-founder of Fitzroy’s Bar Liberty, as well as the food, wine and hospitality conference GROW – who had the idea to fill what was, until now, a yawning gap in the trade.
“It all started during a workshop I was doing with City of Melbourne, based around entrepreneurs in 2022 and what they need when they come to Melbourne,” Bascetta (pictured above) told BARS&clubs.
“Everyone was talking about co-working and start-up spaces, and where they’d take a lot of people when they got to Melbourne. I was the representative from the hospitality industry, and I had someone from tech ask me where I’d take someone from hospitality who was visiting – and I was like, ‘uhh, the newest restaurant I guess, or some of the cool places I like…’
“And they said ‘no, what about for work?’ And I just realised that that kind of space didn’t really exist.”
Bascetta soon called on an old friend in the form of Power, whose career background is in property development and who had recently taken part in a program called Remote Year, working in some of the world’s top co-working spaces.
“He had an incredible time doing that and came back with a pretty big passion for co-working as you can imagine! So he started talking to me about it, and then it all sort of came together.”
Occupying a 300 square-metre space on Smith Street, Bascetta describes Worksmith’s U-shaped floorage as “just the right amount of awkward for a co-working space, with a few nooks and crannies but a big empty cavernous space down the middle.”
“We’re also building a commercial kitchen which will be underway in the next month or so, which is sort of the last piece of the puzzle to allow people to do prep for events, as well as being able to use it as a bit of a test kitchen as well,” Bascetta adds.
As well as a desk, free coffee all day and regular knock-off drinks, Worksmith members have access to regular trade-focused events as well as a monthly “Worksmith community meeting”, an opportunity for each member to talk about what they’re working on and what they might need help with.
“I think it’s one thing to fill the room with great people, but if they’re not going to have that moment to actually open up about what they’re doing and where they’re struggling, then there’s potential for them to miss out on getting help from someone that might be sitting right next to them,” says Bascetta.
There are also tiered membership options, from single day passes to residency (with 24/7 office access, vital for busy hospitality workers); Bascetta also says they’ll soon introduce an ‘industry membership’, for people that are interested in what Worksmith are doing, want to be involved in the events and be part of the community, but don’t need a physical desk as often.
“That’s certainly the last piece of the puzzle apart from the kitchen – it will hopefully bring in younger people in hospitality that want to be part of the community,” says Bascetta.
“I think there’s different pockets of the community in hospitality that are already there and established, but I also feel like we’re not talking enough; coffee roasters rarely speak to bartenders, bartenders rarely speak to chefs, and so on.
“I feel like we can provide that space where people can be part of a community within their profession, and where we can get the conversation started.”