It’s been a boxing ring, an outdoor furniture store and a name-changing late-night party bar, now 74 Frome Street has transformed once again to become Chateau Apollo, a multi-purpose arts and event space.
Jordan Jeavons, the mind behind the now dormant Superfish and just-opened Midnight Spaghetti, is helming the new space. It’s currently occupied by Che Chorley’s Land Sea You Me photographic exhibition, with a roster of events slated for coming months.
The bars, seats and oceanic paraphernalia that most recently filled the space of Little Miss Dive Shop and The Crab Shack is gone, replaced by open space, textured walls and Chorley’s coastline photos. Mostly undressed, the long warehouse space’s varied history feels much more present than before.
“The idea behind it was to take everything out, take it back to its bare bones and its historical structure,” Jeavons says of the stripped back space. “It’s had myriad things going on in here. In the late ‘30s it was a boxing rink, I believe. It was three times the size and went the whole way across Frome Street. But probably the most iconic in recent history was a place called Country Style, which was the big outdoor furniture, marble sculptures shop here on Frome…. Because the building is destined to be developed sometime in the not-too distant future, rather than changing the Country Style façade or modernising it, we decided to completely embrace that.”
The premise now falls under the banner of the Crown & Anchor licence, which also extends to the Superfish courtyard and Midnight Spaghetti eatery, making it ideal for events in the space, says Jeavons, who made his name as part of the Happy Motel crew.
“The [Crown & Anchor] acquisition by the boys [Stuart Duckworth and Tom Skipper] in November last year allowed the permanent license to fall into place for the whole property,” he says. “It’ll give us capacity to do multi-venue events across the whole property. The Crown & Anchor has a licence now for 990 people across the whole thing, with the potential for three or four entertainment areas.”
While Chorley’s exhibition is in Chateau Apollo for now, Jeavons says punters shouldn’t necessarily expect more of the same. Versatility is key, he says, noting upcoming events will span the realms of fashion, live music, food and private events, welcoming a more diverse section of the community than it has in the past.
“I like the idea that people will come in to different events, and in one it’ll be a peaceful and quiet gallery, then the next time it might be a full blown late night warehouse party, then the next a cozy afternoon of wine tasting, or a wedding,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is make a blank canvas space that can be used for a million different things.”
Chorley, who is exhibiting a selection of more than 12,000 shots taken on his SA coastal odyssey, briefly tells The Adelaide Review about the motivations behind the art on the walls and explains that he was drawn to using the space by its strong location and raw character.
“You see that stuff in social media – you know, the beautiful beaches – you know that exists,” he says. “I wanted to show a different side to South Australia – the raw, the grittier, sexier South Australia… I wanted the space to reflect that you can’t remove the way the works are made from the works on the wall – it’s elemental, out there, gritty, all those sorts of things and this space is perfect for that.”
Once Land Sea You Me has bumped out, there will be some minor works done in the space to set it up for food- and drink-service.
“There’s a beautiful movable bar by Sans-Arc Studio going in, and we’re also fitting out the kitchen to bring the facilities of the space up to scratch,” Jeavons explains. “We want to land in a place where we can easily do a sit-down dinner for 120 people, or run a party for 200 people with a humming bar.”
While these developing plans are exciting, the elephant in the room is the debts owed by the Royal Croquet Club, whose directors, Stuart Duckworth and Tom Skipper, also control the Crown & Anchor complex.
“It’s a complicated world, and I think they’re doing their best to dig out of that at the moment,” Jeavons says. Asked how Chateau Apollo and the rest of the Crown & Anchor site could be affected by an adverse outcome to the debt associated with the collapse of the Royal Croquet Club, Jeavons is pragmatic.
“There are obviously connections with those businesses, and the realistic thing to say is that if any of those bills are going to get paid, the people involved need to keep making money.”
The public attention that comes with the group’s difficulties does put pressure on him, but he’s optimistic about the future.
“It’s not exactly some sort of secret activity going on,” he says. “It’s in the public eye and suppliers are aware of that. It’s not without its challenges. They are separate companies and the Crown & Anchor at the moment is fairly healthy and kicking on.”