Footscray’s Night Heron closes

A caretaker notice has recently appeared in the window of the closed venue. (Joe Mastroianni)

Goya Dmytryshchak

Much-loved Footscray bar The Night Heron has closed despite being one of the live music venues the state government deemed worth saving.

The business was among the few in the local area to receive a live music grant, totalling $60,000, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

A caretaker notice recently went up in the window of the shuttered building at 228 Nicholson Street.

The landlord and tenant recently underwent mediation at the Victorian Small Business Commission.

Former tenant Ben Schembri, who leased the building in May 2016 and opened in December the same year, said the venue’s closure had been devastating for he and business partner Sam Gaul.

“It has been an extremely stressful time and has taken quite an emotional toll on myself, Sam and our seven employees,“ he said.

“After four years of long hours and hard work we are devastated to lose the business and for the community to lose yet another arts and music venue.

“We are also somewhat relieved to be out of what became a very difficult situation.

“We have many great memories and are humbled by the comments and messages of support since we announced the news publicly.

“For the immediate future we are taking some time off and will see how the dust settles.“

Ajay Rawat, whose family owns the building, said it was a “bad situation“.

“We’re deciding to put it on lease, but then as you can imagine with COVID and everything people might not want to lease a hospitality outlet or venue,“ he said.

“We’re still deciding.“