There’s no water in Carlton but this yacht club’s a winner

17 November 2023

It’s for very good reason Melbourne was named in the world’s top five travel-worthy drinking destinations this year.

The key to this acclaim is Melbourne’s cultural diversity and the waves of migration over the years from Italy, Greece and Asia which have influenced our city’s bar scene. 
Take Carlton Yacht Club for example. 
It’s behind a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it door, in a sea of espresso bars and cucinas in the heart of Little Italy. 
The perfect destination for times when your budget doesn’t quite stretch to sailing the Amalfi Coast but you want to feel a world away with an Aperol Spritz or a Limoncello in hand. 

A person holding a short drink inside a bar.
Andrew Leonedas is proud of the community he’s created at Carlton Yacht Club Bar

But it’s owner Andrew Leonedas’ Greek heritage that has perhaps unwittingly influenced the nautical theme. 

“I came up with the name as it represents the relaxed environment I wanted to create and constructed cocktails and added decor to suit. Customers love the name and the irony that Carlton has no water,” Andrew said. 

Carlton Yacht Club has certainly captured a niche in the market, evoking a sense of carefreeness and fun one would associate with sailing the Aegean Sea. 
We’ve recognised Andrew and Carlton Yacht Club with a Lord Mayor’s Small Business Achievement Award for more than 20 years in business. 
It was after more than two decades working in the hospitality industry, Andrew decided it was time he chartered his own course. 
So he set sail into the world of business ownership launching Carlton Yacht Club

“I started the business in 2002. At that time I’d been in the hospitality industry for 21 years, mostly running businesses for others and involved with industry teaching and training. It was inevitable that one day I would have a business of my own to run as I saw fit,” Andrew said. 

Carlton Yacht Club is now one of Lygon Street’s longest-standing cocktail institutions, popular with loyal locals and visitors alike.

“Over the bar’s 21-year history it has seen a few changes but the heart and soul of the place has remained the same. The focus was always to provide patrons with a comfortable and friendly atmosphere,” Andrew said. 

“Staff selection has always been paramount with customer focus the key. We have been well received, over the years, by locals and visitors to Lygon Street alike. Another feature over the years has been the vast selection of drinks featuring a wide selection of classic and signature cocktails.

“It is different, compared to other bars, in that it is solely focused on the customer and their needs without egos of staff getting in the way. Carlton Yacht Club is fun and friendly without taking itself too seriously,” Andrew said. 

Despite the industry facing some rough seas in recent years Andrew is buoyed by Lygon Street’s bounceback. 

“Melbourne is a great place to do business as people are open to new ideas and fun places to visit. They just love going out and Lygon Street is popular again,” he said.

“The Lord Mayor’s Small Business Achievement Award is an acknowledgment that you are doing something right and a recognition of survival. How do you survive in a tough and competitive environment? Well, if you look after your patrons then they will look after you. I guess that’s why we’ve been around for 21 years.” 

So next time you’re after an after-work aperitif, visit Andrew and the team at Carlton Yacht Club at 298 Lygon Street, Carlton. The team is slinging drinks from 4pm until late, seven days a week. And you won’t even need to wear boat shoes. 

About the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards

Melbourne is full of fantastic small business success stories. 

The Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards celebrate the people behind inner-city businesses that have stood the test of time. 
Among the recipients are legends who have been in business in the city for 10+, 20+ and 40+ years. We also name a Small Business of the Year and Small Innovation Business of the Year.

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17 November 2023
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