Karaoke. Dogs. Beer. Courtyards. Sequins. These are a few of our favourite things. And when we heard there was a new karaoke bar combining all of them in a giant kitschy pot, we got our arses down there pronto.
If you’ve never held a microphone with one hand while cradling a tequila sunrise in the other, Benjys is here to rectify that. It’s a candy-striped, dog-friendly karaoke parlour dedicated to all things FUN.
“There’s so much craziness in the world,” says founder Tim Firth. “We just wanted to build something happy.”
Mission bloody accomplished. The main room looks like a dressing room from Priscilla. A kaleidoscopic flurry of bedazzled fedora hats (always a good idea), cassette tapes and old vinyl on the wall, group tables where you can plot your next song request (most likely Daryl Braithwaite), and a bar within arm’s reach. Benjys has 30,000 songs on tap, thanks to an in-house karaoke app. They’re projected onto the main wall, surrounded by old records (“We call it BenjyVision,” says Tim).
If you’re a 3 on a scale of 1-To-Belting-Out-Mariah Carey, take your beers out to the Technicolor dog-friendly patio out back and flex your vocal chords. The ‘Lovers Lane’ down the side of the building is painted with piano keys and looks like something out of Mario’s Rainbow Road.
Out here you can chill with a few plates of vegan hot dogs, vegetarian burgers and fluffy well-spiced chips. The menu is all vegan/veggo: a beer-soaking little list of toasties, eggplant parmas and vegetarian samosas. Jenga and Connect Four are on stand-by if you feel like a quick game between tunes. There’s even a resident mascot dog named Donna, who will almost definitely attempt to rob your chips in exchange for pats.
"People say that they feel like they're on holiday here," Tim says. "It's like you've found the perfect house party."
At the moment Benjys' licence expires at 10:30pm, but they're working to get that pushed to 1:30am ASAP. Watch this space.
We could write a Phd. on the reasons why you should visit this place. But really, just picture your boss on stage crying and singing My Heart Will Go On. If that’s not reason enough, we don’t know what is.
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis