Brisbane cocktail bar, Dirty Sultan, is experiencing remarkable trade in 2021 thanks to the consistent experience that has been perfected despite a difficult opening year, in 2020.
The bar, located in Fortitude Valley, opened in February 2020, just five weeks prior to the first COVID-19 lockdowns. But co-owner and operator Dilan Ildes (pictured on the left) said while last year was a difficult, it allowed his team to perfect an offering which ultimately helped stabalised trade when it reopened, and has become an essential element to further recovery and success in 2021.
“Thanks to COVID, this is our first year of real trade but it has definitely exceeded our expectations and fingers crossed it all keeps going well,” Dilan told Bars and Clubs.
“When we tell people we opened in February 2020 they usually don’t react well, but we would say it was a success as the five great weeks of trade we had helped us get through three months of closure. Reopening with months of ever-changing restrictions has been difficult, but we have still managed to thrive, stay positive and keep our team strong and motivated.”
He added: “The key to recovery is to be malleable and maintain customer confidence, so you can change the product and experience, if need be, and always ensure you deliver the right guest experience.
“We feel that people want to come out more now than before, even though we have had restrictions we have managed to do well and keep our customers coming back and enjoying themselves. The key to hospitality success is to not think about selling food and drinks, but to think of the experience you are selling.”
Dilan, along with friend and co-owner Tom D’Arcy (pictured above on the right) opened Dirty Sultan with the vision to serve patrons an all-day experience and are nearing their goal with a laneway café and bar to open soon.
“We want to keep bringing new events with an international flavour to keep our customer base diverse. We have also a function room for private functions which operates as a breakfast café in the morning Wednesday to Sunday with a modern Turkish inspired menu and for functions in the afternoon and evening,” Dilan said.
“We are currently completing the final component to our venue which is a laneway café and bar which we are excited to bring another laneway to Brisbane and hope for more to come.”
In addition to the unique bar design, Dilan’s focus has been curating a cocktail menu and entertainment offering that sets itself apart from other cocktail bars in and around Brisbane’s CBD.
He said: “Our focus is on giving our customers an international experience. When they come to our rooftop bar they could be in Istanbul or somewhere else in the Mediterranean having a great time.
“We have placed a strong emphasis on design, décor, and product and it is the whole experience that comes together with international Hip Hop and R&B which provides a vibe not like any other in Brisbane. This is feedback we get from our customers that our Bar’s vibe is international.
“Our cocktail list is edgy but approachable. We spent a lot of time developing our cocktail menu with numerous trials. Our best-selling cocktail is the Yasmin (pictured below) which is the signature cocktail to our vibe and venue.”
Dilan said that in addition to its cocktail experience, hosting events has also improved foot traffic in 2021: “We have monthly events with an international flavour such as French hip hop, Brazilian funk, Caribbean and Afrobeats and Dancehall events which bring a diverse range of customers to our venue. This has been a key success factor this year to tap into a market that we feel has not yet been tapped into previously.”
Having done it himself, Dilan is encouraging anyone wanting to take the same journey from bartender to bar owner to “have a go,” saying it is important to set out clear objectives throughout the process.
“We made the transition from bartenders to bar owners and feel that our on the ground experience in every aspect of the Bar has helped us to run a successful bar and we would encourage anyone with a great idea to have a go.
“We have also surrounded ourselves with a great team which is creative and dynamic. We believe our success is in the detail that we deliver, we know who we are, we stick to our vision and have taken some risks along the way,” he said.