After making the move from London to Leichhardt over a decade ago, it’s hard to imagine Sydney’s hospitality scene without Mikey. Now, the Continental Deli front man has put down roots with his first apartment on Gadigal Land in Sydney’s Inner West.
Mikey is the first to admit owning property wasn’t really on his radar. “I always thought I would rent all my life,” he shares.
After a gentle nudge from close friends who’d recently bought themselves, Mikey soon had his sights set on a bright, ground-floor apartment just a 10-minute stroll from his current rental.
It’s not surprising it took Mikey over 11 years to find a permanent base in Sydney. The London bartender made the move to Australia and was soon sponsored to “stick around” in Australia for good. “One thing led to another and we ended up opening Continental Deli,” explains Mikey.
The deli is a home away from home for many Sydneysiders. Positioned right on Australia Street in vibrant Newtown, it’s hard to miss the cured meats, cheeses and signature canned goods waiting behind the weighty red door. “It’s an environment where you escape the outside world… you’re transported to a space where you can eat and drink as much or as little as you want and you’ll be looked after,” shares Mikey.
Despite being the Operations Manager behind the group’s three venues (Continental Deli in Newtown and the CBD as well as the newly opened Bar Louise up the road in Enmore), Mikey isn’t a fan of labels. “I’m a glassy, a bartender, a host, a section waiter - I do everything that needs to be done.”
This straight-shooting approach carried through as Mikey put the wheels in motion to buy his first property. With so many moving parts (from finance to engaging solicitors), Mikey was grateful to have support by his side.
“What took the stress out of the process was having the clarity of what I’m capable of purchasing and knowing how much I could spend… once I got that comfort and reassurance it made the process very doable.”
While it wasn’t always a top priority, Mikey saw the value of owning his own place, too. “From my position working in hospitality, even having a piece of the pie, you’re never going to advance financially if you don’t buy a property. I think it's a very solid move to make,” tells Mikey.
Tucked away in a small block of nine in Leichhardt, Mikey scored the keys to his apartment early in 2022. “Leichhardt is very local and has a small town sort of vibe which I love - it feels very separate from the rest of Sydney.”
Quick to put his own stamp on the space, he set about making a few initial renovations.
“The flooring was the first thing that we did. When I first walked in, it was all loose old timber. So we did the flooring then the skirting boards and we took the cabinet out of the bathroom. That left the wall a bit shitty so that started the process of painting the whole place and making it feel really smick and nice.”
One look around the space is all it takes to see how much Mikey loves his home. The walls are covered in pieces from local Sydney artists and fellow hospitality talent. “I didn’t think I was [a big art fan] but I look around now and it’s all local artists that I know from either the restaurants or people that I’ve served and built up friendships with over the years.”
There are lino prints from artist and Swillhouse Art Director Allie Webb, paintings from artist and Shady Pines’ glassy Max Berry and custom pieces by Mikey Freedom (who also happens to be the artist behind much of the art you’ll find at Contential Deli’s restaurants, too).
“I’m really lucky to have a pretty close relationship with Mikey [Freedom] so he was able to create something that’s specific to me and my character. You stare at it and you see wine bottles and palm trees and it's pretty special.”
As you’d expect, Mikey has big plans to continue adding his touch to the place.
“It’s a constant work in progress. It’s just like the Deli, we’re seven years in and we just started painting a wall and we’ve got an artist working on a couple of pieces for us. Then next month, they’ll be something else - whether it’s a piece of equipment or new furnishings… it’s a constant work in progress there and here.”
Mikey’s top picks for eating and drinking in his new neighbourhood
Golden Gully - a great local bar in Leichhardt with a real sense of community.
Bar Sport Leichhardt - "the perfect spot to watch the World Cup."
Cherry Moon - “the best bakery in the country”. Don’t miss the Russian honey cake.
Penny Fours - for “the best croissants in Sydney.” Keep an eye out for their new outpost in Balmain, opening in February 2023.