Two Melbourne icons are set to become one with Moon Dog Craft Brewery filing a planning application to build a new home on the former site of Franco Cozzo Footscray.
Moon Dog co-founder Karl van Buuren says they’ve been looking for additional venues for some time, and it remains early days for them in Melbourne’s west: the planning application has just been advertised and they're yet to land on a name.
“It's still with council and nothing is confirmed until that planning application process is completed,” he told The Crafty Pint.
“It's always been our vision or journey to open additional venues in Melbourne and that was kind of put on hold during COVID.”
The Hopkins Street building is located in the heart of Footscray; anyone who has spent a moment in the suburb would know its signage and furniture well.
For anyone outside of Melbourne, however, it's fair to say Franco Cozzo is a living legend. The Italian-Australian businessman ran furniture stores in both Footscray in Brunswick and his famed TV ads saw Franco speak directly into the camera in English, Italian and Greek to sell his distinct range of wares.
For an in-depth look at Franco's story, the documentary Palazzo di Cozzo is excellent viewing, but because Melburnians no longer have any taste, both Franco's stores have sat largely unused for some time, although they do remain full of furniture.
Franco sold the Footscray building in 2018, but his business has remained on site. Karl says they’re working with the building's new owner to turn the space into a venue and are eager to pay homage to the space’s long history and Franco Cozzo’s storied connection to Footscray.
“I grew up in the 90s, watching him on TV,” Karl says. “So what we want to do is retain the heritage of such an iconic figure and what he's built in Footscray. We do feel we’re the best kind of people to do that; we create large, grandiose venues and we want to make sure that heritage stays with that venue.”
Although there won’t be a brewery on site, Karl says that, much like Moon Dog World in Preston, visiting the new locale with be an experience featuring multiple bars and areas for people to explore, including a rooftop bar. The planning application states they’ll have licensed space for some 900 punters as well as a kitchen and kids play area.
As for whether or not visitors will finally be able to take a seat on some of Franco’s famous sofas, it’s early days.
“We haven't discussed this with Mr Cozzo yet, but we definitely want to have an area where people can experience his furniture as well,” Karl says.
The planning application caps off an impressive couple of months for the team: they won Champion Large Brewery at The Indies in October and have launched a new range of drinks called Razzler.
As Karl puts it: “The team's really pumped, the production team is doing a great job, and everything’s looking really good.”
Moon Dog Open Summer Paradiso At Melbourne's Art Centre
If you're in Melbourne and feel like you need more Moon Dog in your life now, they've launched a pop-up in partnership with the city's Art Centre. Summer Paradiso opens this Friday (Dec 2) in The Arts Centre Forecourt, serving a wide range of their drinks alongside food from Q Barbeque.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there will be a DJ spinning tunes too, while music will also be provided by SoundBox, a pop-up live audio studio that aims to take listeners behind the scenes of the music industry.
"We're super excited for the weather to warm up as we’ve partnered with Melbourne Arts Centre to create a summery escape, right in the heart of the CBD," Karl says.
"There’s so much going on in Melbourne over summer between The Arts Centre, Australian Open and Sidney Myer Music Bowl, just to name a few. We’re looking forward to being the meeting point for visitors of these iconic Melbourne activities across the warmer months."