There’s something about our town’s local clubs that sees thousands of Australian families and groups of friends from all walks of life making the weekly pilgrimage, or even a few times a week, to our trusted local sports club.
Perhaps it’s the comradery and mate-ship from club roots that carry through to its dining, bar and overall experience that keep us coming back time and time again. Or is it the comfortable and family-like service that we’ve all grown up loving?
Ask any Australian about their earliest memory with their local club and they’ll sure be whisked back in time. It’s a fond memory many of us share and even I can remember only just standing eye-level with the bain-marie buffet and reaching for the soft serve dispenser handle on my tippy-toes, while grandpa eagerly awaits the verdict of the meat tray winner.
But as traditional as they come, and however so engrained in our upbringing, for clubs it’s always good to adapt and evolve with the community. The Ainslie Football Club is undergoing an anticipated renovation that will see the venue transform into a bustling hub, while still giving a nod to its history of fostering Australian football.
“Our philosophy is to not only nurture our history but also offer a unique destination that provides versatile options and experiences,” Ainslie Group Marketing Coordinator Alycia Kunze says.
“Although not an uncommon phrase in our modern community, there really is something for everyone within this unique venue. Whether you’re looking to have fun, feel comfortable or enjoy a dining option at ‘foodie’ level, we really do believe you can find it at the new Ainslie. If you’re after a taste of our history, you can still find that too as we’ll never forget that.
“The non-profit community club model here in Canberra is so unique and we’re extremely proud that it allows us to create such a supportive and homely culture. It simply brings people together in various forms, which has an amazing impact for a beautiful place like Canberra.”
This community focus is reflected not just in the Ainslie Football Club’s members, but also its staff too. While many Canberra families have come together to enjoy and build Ainslie Football Club over the years, lots of families have also spent a lifetime working in the clubs as well.
Long-standing employee, Karen James, has worked at the club for 35 years and has a proud family history with the venue that expands over four generations.
“I just love it, I come in and smile every day,” she says.
“I’ve made life-long friends with many club members and colleagues over the years. We’re like family here.”
Karen began working at the Ainslie Football and Social Club as a Food & Beverage Attendant in 1980, and has gained considerable experience working across most areas of the club ever since.
“I’ve seen the club go from having a small bistro in the corner to undergoing a lot of growth and extension. I’ve seen changes in the technology of the poker machines to the effect that the ‘don’t drink and drive’ regulation has had on our community and industry,” she explains.
Ainslie Football Club hasn’t received a major renovation for more than 10 years, and Alycia says it’s an overdue and much-welcomed advancement for both the club’s staff and members.
“It’s not just about having a fresh new coat of paint, it’s about everything else stepping up alongside the new look – our customer service, innovation, staff development, all those things, because that’s what makes the customer journey and experience memorable,” she says.
Final completion of the venue is due early September, and stage one of the refurbishment is now complete for members to enjoy the delightful Fireside Lounge & Bar, boasting a cozy fireplace, small bites and share plates menu, and an extensive beverage and wine list with local craft beers; as well as a new-look TAB space.
“We’ve maintained some of our traditional trophy memorabilia within the venue, however an artist’s impression into our history has been documented into a unique feature wall that will make an impact upon entry,” Alycia adds.
“This is a really special and creative piece about the Ainslie Football Club story and we can expect to see this on completion of stage two.”
With the new spaces come new club entertainment features, including live acoustic music every Friday between 5pm to 7pm to capture the cruisey after-work crowd.
Ainslie is still your inner north go-to for free trivia, held every Thursday from 7pm and, of course, the venue still caters for the footy fanatics too – the two big screens say it all.
“We are excited to be on this journey and provide the improved facilities for our members and broader community,” Alycia says.
“We’re not just a restaurant, entertainment facility or bar, so the experience can be versatile and whatever you want to make of it. People of all ages will get so much more out of a hospitality venue like this.”
Being a member of Ainslie Football Club comes with many benefits and rewards, including food and beverage discounts, as well as loyalty points which equal to dollar benefits.