Grand ale, grand ale! Plans to turn Franco Cozzo building into Moon Dog brewery
Franco Cozzo’s iconic Footscray building would be turned into a new Moon Dog brewery and bar – complete with a fittingly grandiose multi-tiered fountain – under new plans submitted to Maribyrnong City Council.
Melbourne brewing company Moon Dog, which operates a venue in Abbotsford and the 10,000-square-metre Moon Dog World in Preston, is proposing to transform the Cozzo building into a multi-level brewery with live music, a new rooftop bar and capacity for 900 people.
Franco Cozzo in his Footscray furniture showroom in 2021.Credit:Wayne Taylor
Moon Dog co-founder Karl van Buuren said the team was committed to keeping plenty of Cozzo flavour, including retaining the famous signage and mural, installing a large Roman-style fountain, and an area dedicated to the furniture king with wares that could be at home in his stores.
“I grew up in the ’90s watching his face on television and the building holds a special place in my heart,” Van Buuren said.
The Footscray showroom on Hopkins Street was Cozzo’s first. He says he bought it in 1970 for $80,000, before selling to a private developer, Pelligra Group, for $7 million in 2018.
Pelligra had initially expected to develop apartments and office space on the 1000-square-metre site.
Franco Cozzo’s first store in Footscray.
Cozzo, 86, stayed on in the building as a tenant after the sale, but in November started gradually moving stock to operate solely from his Brunswick store, which reopens in about two weeks after being closed for renovations.
The larger-than-life figure, who migrated from Sicily in 1957 as a 21-year-old and later became known for his “Grand sale, grand sale, grand sale!” catchphrase, said in 2018 that the time had come for him to slow down.
Van Buuren said discussions about the plans started several months ago and he hoped to make it another “experiential venue” – Moon Dog’s Preston location has a karaoke bar, waterfall and lagoon.
“An opportunity arose for us to work with the owners of the building to provide a use for it and give the respect it deserves as such an iconic piece of Melbourne history,” he said.
The mural on the Franco Cozzo Footscray building.Credit:Paul Jeffers
“It’s such a perfect spot and suits exactly the kind of strategy we have for venues in Melbourne.”
The planning permit application was released for community feedback on Thursday.
Van Buuren said more details about the venue and its timeline would be released once plans were approved.
Possible issues to be worked through could include sound levels affecting neighbouring residential properties and traffic management, with the building located at a busy intersection.
Moon Dog has been gradually expanding across the city – a “Summer Paradiso” pop-up will run in the Arts Centre forecourt for five months from Friday.
Franco Cozzo has been contacted for comment.
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