Grand Ale, Grand Ale! Has Moon Dog landed yet?


    By Meredith Charles

    There was once a time when walking past the old Cozzo showroom in Footscray felt eerie. The large and dark warehouse was filled with baroque-style furniture covered in dust. Peeping through the graffiti-covered glass it was hard to determine whether the furniture was staged, whether it was a crime scene or whether someone had left in a hurry with no explanation of when they would return. It was a place that once was. 

    Looking up at the God-like mural of Franco Cozzo, speaking directly to the heavens on Shelley Street, it all made sense.

    ‘Megalo megalo megalo’ this was the place. This was the place that enlivened the 1960s television commercials with the charismatic personality. If the traffic was still, it was here you could almost hear the iconic thick accent, see the quaffed hair and the smartly dressed icon ready to step out and tell you a tale about a grand sale. This was the place.

    Stepping into 2024, to consider fusing a brewery with a place of childhood nostalgia, is as ambitious as landing on the moon, but will it work, and will it open?

    The welcoming of Moon Dog has had mixed reviews. After an initial failed council bid, some tough negotiation, and some vocal community opposition, the City of Maribyrnong approved the planning permit mid-August 2023. One less fountain, some significant compromise and 150 fewer patrons (at maximum capacity) later, the construction commenced. The opening night was delayed, and then further delayed, and then was finally here only to be called off at the last minute due to the ill placement of a fire hydrant causing much chaos and controversy. 

    As the media were turned away ten minutes before the launch, some in the Footscray community voiced their disappointment believing that council had called off drinks the day before. Maribyrnong City Council responded to the allegations using the ‘Shaggy’ defence, “It was not me.”

    Parking and patron safety had been the main pillars of initial council resistance but underpinning other local concern was a sense of desire to keep Footscray the way of old and ‘for the locals’.  But despite the hesitation, the venue (at the time of writing) has opened and its creators say it will be quirky, fun, outrageous and wild. 

    When patrons walk through the swinging doors they’re greeted by a wild west cartoon scene with rusted whisky barrels, cactuses, randomly placed wagon wheels and horseshoes nailed into walls. The ambitious pitch is that the venue will cater for family, cocktail lovers, foodies, and kids with a games arcade and play area and different levels to separate the mayhem. The second floor will be a country music honky tonk themed bar. The third floor features a rooftop dog-friendly bar garden.

    Importantly, a sense of Footscray nostalgia will remain and there is a room dedicated to the local icon Franco Cozzo making it apparent the legacy of this place was not lost on the Moon Dog crew.  The combination of Franco’s room and the wild west theme pays some sort of abstract homage to the unique character of the west.

    So the Moon Dog has landed. We’re yet to see if it makes a dent in the story of the west. 

    Moon Dog Wild West
    Monday–Tuesday 3pm–11pm,
    Wednesday–Thursday 12pm–11pm
    Friday–Saturday 12pm–1am
    Sunday 12pm–11pm

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