aden and james viral ventures
Viral Ventures co-founder Aden Levin and James Farrell own the Wonderland Bar. Image Supplied.
  • Viral Ventures makes use of vacant retail spaces by introducing temporary venue concepts
  • So far, invested $500,000 into transforming 1200sqm of space
  • Ongoing lockdowns and poor economic forecasts have not stopped expansion plans

Despite difficulties in the industry thanks to Covid, Viral Ventures, an Australian hospitality and events company, is determined to create local employment opportunities by reviving retail spaces that have been left vacant.

The owners of Sydney’s iconic World Bar (now known as Wonderland Bar) have invested over $500,000 in transforming up to 1200sqm of retail space into new temporary venue concepts.

The team opened Wizard’s Den in Brisbane – a Harry Potter-themed pop-up bar – this year along with the Big Bake in Sydney’s MetCentre in April. A further two are set to open in Sydney’s World Square when the lockdown lifts, Karen’s Diner and Verse NFT.

Around 70 staff will be employed following completion.

“With so many retail spaces unused and empty, we saw an opportunity to make the most of these spaces,” co-founder Aden Levin told The Property Tribune.

“We worked closely with partners to research spaces that have been dormant due to the unfortunate consequences of COVID-19 and decided to utilise them by introducing concepts that were new to local customers.

“We transformed them into engaging bars and activation hubs to drive consumers back out and try something new.”

Aden Levin, co-founder

In terms of their growth strategy, the founders plan to establish relationships with traditional retail landlords all over Australia to assist them in utilising underperforming spaces.

They have begun accepting expressions of interest for their upcoming equity crowdfunding raise where they hope to raise up to $1 million, which will be used to facilitate the opening of 10-12 more venues across Australia over the next 12 months.

Like many businesses leaders, the founders are confident the industry will bounce back once vaccination rollout targets have been met.

“The industry has been through an incredibly tough period and its ability to bounce back will depend on government restrictions and how it impacts indoor dining when lockdowns do end,” said fellow co-founder James Farrell.

“For many people, it could take a few weeks for them to feel comfortable being in social environments again.”

While it is increasingly likely that Australia’s economy will decline during the current quarter – and possibly beyond, resulting in a technical recession – the founders insist they have the same growth plans and appetite as before.

“There is a fantastic domestic opportunity within Australia and some amazing neglected spaces that we can transform into something special. We are putting things in place behind the scenes so that once restrictions are lifted, we can continue this strategy to every state.”

James Farrell, co-founder

“Our crowdfunding capital raise is really important to our growth right now and a really exciting opportunity for not only us but our shareholders. Our customers have always been an integral part of our journey which is why we want them to be a part of future success,” concluded Mr Levin.

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