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Merewether’s Modus Operandi to open within weeks

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Rammed earth walls recycled from bushfire-affected properties, bathroom tiles made from recycled plastics and a 3,000 square foot Merewether site dedicated to beer – that’s what awaits Modus Operandi visitors in less than six weeks.

Despite currently resembling a construction site, sitting between Mitchell and Merewether Streets, the rustic-looking much-anticipated hospitality venue is already taking shape.

Securing the last of its impressive 16-metre roofing sheets this week, the family-run brewery is already complete with mature pandamos plants, over-scale limestone rocks and sliding steel-frame doors.

The brainchild of Merewether-based husband and wife owners Jaz and Grant Wearn, Newcastle’s newest hospitality venue is set to open its doors by spring, seven years after planning began.

“It’s been a labour of love,” Mrs Wearn said. “But one that will soon all be worth it.”

After several site knock-backs, a 160km move north, and Covid-delayed plans, the impressive building, fortuitously constructed using a Newcastle-based team from Kingston Building, is coming together as planned.

“What’s unique about the site is the materials we’ve chosen,” Mr Wearn said.

“We’ve committed to being sustainable throughout.”

“We’re using carbon-heavy soil from bushfire-affected farmers, and we’ll be giving fertile soils back to the farmers in replacement so they can use it to grow again.

Danpalon polycarbonate, sourced from Israel, makes up the roofing and walls. 

“We’ve made deliberate choices along the way, not just financial choices but ones that will help create a beautiful space.

“Our kids are going to grow up here and we want it to be a unique, memorable place.”

The duo, who’s backgrounds include finance, hospitality, liquor sales, events and brewing, worked with Newcastle-born architect Ben Berwick to transform an old smash repair business into what they hope will be seen as “a remarkable landmark”.

“We have an extended family here now with our new team of 50,” Mr Wearn says.

“With that comes responsibilities and a heap of mouths to feed, we want them to love this as much as we do.”

The creative pair will be joined by head brewer, production manager, Matt Hogan.

The former wine grower, who has been brewing beer for more than a decade, is looking forward to sharing his skillset.

“We’ll be serving up to 36 different types of beer,” he said.

“It’s important that people know there’s more to beer than just Fosters and VB, beer has so many different flavours, it’s so versatile.”

Taking its name from the Latin term meaning ‘a particular way or method of doing something’, Modus Operandi fosters an ethos of ‘beer first, no shortcuts”.

“We really care about how the beer is made,” Mr Hogan said.

The unique site will consist of two nine-metre bars with 36 taps of beer, a cocktail list, wine selections and food to match.

Described as ‘an artisan and food venue’, Modus Operandi will also have a children’s playground and outdoor space.

“We produce and manufacture all our beer here, and on the side we have an artisan food and drink use, which means we are a blend of beer manufacturing as well as a hospitality venue,” Mrs Wearn said.

After seven years of planning and the recent boost of a $1 million manufacturing prize for its NORT non-alcoholic beer, Mrs Wearn says opening day will be the manifestation of a long dream.

“It’s been years in the planning and it’ll be fantastic to finally see people enjoying what we’ve created here in Merewether.”

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