Assembling local produce, endless cocktails and enhanced by the local natural wonders, new bar Loft has landed on a seaside terrace in Byron Bay.

Moments from the beach, Loft Byron Bay has been conceptualised by Matt Hunt, a 33-year old hospitality entrepreneur from Melbourne. Starting in the restaurant business at an early age, Hunt owned The Village, formerly the Belgian Beer Café, on St Kilda Road for nearly a decade. “After selling The Village, I started looking around in Melbourne for more opportunities to get into the market of pubs and small bars, but couldn’t find a location that was suitable,” said Matt.

Soon, Hunt turned his search to one of his favourite Australian destinations, Byron Bay. “I’ve got lots of family friends here — it’s always been close to my heart. I’ve always come here to let my hair down and it’s somewhere I knew I’d end up at some stage in my life.”

Loft came together swiftly, with Hunt finding the space in April 2017, renovating during winter and opening in late October of the same year. Since then, the bar has received an overwhelming response from Byron Bay crowds. “It’s been incredible — we’ve got huge local support,” said Matt.

With the help of local designer Ky Drury, who is already known for some of her work on other Byron Bay venues, Hunt and his team fit in perfectly with their vibrant location. Using Australian timbers, leathers and earthy neutral tones, they wanted to tap into the ultimate coastal vibe. “We went with an inviting design that is warm, beachy and light — exactly what Byron Bay embodies.”

Loft’s menu includes a “bit of everything” from bar snacks to sharing plates, and is guided by Executive Chef Martyn Ridings, who has spent time in Stokehouse kitchens in Melbourne and Queensland. Menu selections are European inspired modern Australian classics including freshly shucked oysters, fish and chips and cheese board options. “As a bar, we needed a good snack menu that complemented cocktails, beers and wines at lunch, dinner and late at night,” said Matt. The cocktail menu is sophisticated yet fun, boasting Spiced Chai Whiskey Sour, Lychee Chilli Coconut Martini and the old faithful Espresso Martini.

With plenty of nearby suppliers readily available to Loft, Matt did not hesitate to jump on board the local produce train. “Alcohol suppliers include Brookie’s Gin from Cape Byron Distillery, Stone and Wood, Black Hops Brewing in Burleigh Heads and Seven Mile Brewing in Ballina,” said Matt. When it comes to food, Byron Bay Mozarella and Cape Byron Beef and Salumi Australia are some of Loft’s go-to producers.

As far as the future goes, Hunt is keen to open a collective of venues in Byron Bay, embedding himself in the culture of the seaside town. “Things are always happening around the shire. There’s a lot of pride and passion and it’s great to be part of it.”

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