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UPDATED: Melbourne's branch of the video-game themed Mana Bar is set to close later in the year, with a For Lease sign spotted above the venue over the weekend, and staff posting a farewell message on Facebook.
Now, the team has backed this up with a heartfelt message:
It's with great sadness that we have to say that yes it's true, it is currently planned that Mana Bar Melbourne will close late September.
Venue size and debilitating license restrictions has finally gotten the best of us, we simply couldn't support ourselves on day traffic alone since as soon as everyone was in the bar and having fun we aggravatingly had to kick you all out at 11.
The bar, which opened in July 2011, was described as a venue that "transcends the usual geek stereotype". At the time, this was heralded as the first of many Mana Bars promised to open around Australia and around the world.
Since then, however, things have not run quite so smoothly in the Mana Bar camp. The official Melbourne venue website redirects to the national Facebook page, which - interestingly - only refers to the franchise's original Brisbane location.
Even the original quartet of organisers appear to have disbanded: Guy "Yug" Blomberg is now a key figure at PAX Australia, silent partner Yahtzee Croshaw has continued with Zero Punctuation and Shay Leighton focussed his attention on alcoholic website Straight Up Australia (now apparently also closed), when not bartending around the place. Only Pras Moorthy remains, listed on the Brisbane location Facebook page as general manager, alongside former bartender Cormac Moore.
Quashing rumours that the bar was "gone for good", Mana Bar Melbourne is planning a Save Your Mana event at the bar from August 27-31, "where we're encouraging people to come into the bar and have a beer, show your support for the bar and staff and help us try and find a new home for our community that we all love so much!". Stay tuned.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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Jimmy the Geek