Melbourne bar and live music venue Ding Dong Lounge is set to close in January, and one of its former employees has accused the owner of lying about the reasons why.
In a statement, Ding Dong owner Billy Walsh says, “It’s an open secret that venues in the Melbourne CBD have been struggling lately due in part to the broader proliferation of similar clubs and bars across the inner north,” while claiming the “heartbreaking homeless[ness] issue and ongoing late-night violence in the CBD” also led him to decide to close the Market Lane establishment.
Meanwhile, one of Walsh’s former employees has accused him of a number of “failings”, including allegedly not paying bands, not having enough alcohol for the bar, filling bottles of top-shelf spirits with cheaper spirits and eventually allowing the venue to go under.
In a statement, 23-year-old Jacqui Picone says she’s “sick and tired of the excuses and lies being peddled by the owner because he won’t own up to his own failings”.
“The entire year-and-a-half I worked there I was paid $20 an hour. The manager barely earned more. Always in cash,” she says.
“There was at least one out of order toilet my entire tenure there… The kitchen license was a year out of date until recently. We never have enough alcohol, we never have post mix, every simple task is always three times harder.”
Picone says it’s also “Melbourne’s worst kept secret that bands don’t get paid at Ding Dong Lounge”.
“At least three days a week staff are fielding phone calls from angry bands or suppliers chasing money owed to them from the owner and we are expected to lie and say he’s not there when he’s sitting at the bar, right in front of our faces,” she says.
Read her statement in full, below.
“We tried to be hospitable, caring and fair, although, there have been times when we struggled to make ends meet,” Walsh has told Fairfax Media.
“We received wide support from all quarters, including band managers, agents, touring companies, media, and most importantly the musicians themselves. Our staff really cared about the welfare of our customers and we stayed true to ourselves.”
Ding Dong Lounge opened in 2003, and has hosted performances from the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age, The White Stripes, Leonard Cohen, Ed Sheeran, You Am I, Jimmy Barnes and Rose Tattoo. Its final night of service will be on 13th January.