The Start Up Files is a series that aims to find out where good ideas come from and how they happen. Each fortnight we chronicle the journey of someone who brought their idea to life through the Renew Adelaide program. In this article, we chat to Louis Schofield, co-owner of basement wine bar Hellbound.
Wine first. Bar Second.
That’s the ethos of Hellbound, but it also describes the journey of Louis Schofield who spent a decade selling and producing wine before becoming a bar owner.
His long-term friend Mark Reginato was in the hospitality industry and for years the pair had a running joke about how they should start a wine bar. Something they felt was Adelaide was lacking considering its status as the wine capital of Australia.
When a heritage basement on Rundle St became available through the Renew Adelaide program, it piqued their interest and they signed up for an inspection. Next thing they knew they’d signed the licence and were turning the basement into the wine bar they used to joked about.
After the makeover the space was transformed into a welcoming place featuring exposed brick walls, soft lighting and, most importantly, a healthy supply of comfortable seating.
“We always wanted it to feel like you were drinking in someone’s cellar. Like you’ve gone to someone’s house for dinner and you head downstairs afterwards, raid the cellar, pull some corks, listen to some music, have a good time. We wanted people to feel comfortable and cosy and welcomed.”
For any new business the first few months can be a bit of a trial by fire. In the hospitality industry it’s a brutal battle royale where only the very strongest survive. The most common mistake Louis sees people making is assuming that if they like their idea everyone else will too.
“You have to deliver something better value, better quality, different and exciting.”
With the advantage of a rent-free space and the overwhelming support from their network, Hellbound emerged victorious and is still thriving a year and a half later. Which is good news as Louis is in it for the long haul.
“You look at some of the great old venues like Amalfi across the street that’s been there forever and it’s just packed all the time because it’s an institution and people love it and they’ve always done a great job. Which kind of gives us a lot of faith that if we can stick around for a long time we’ll work.”