HomeNewsHow a $10,000 IDEA LAB grant made this Fairytale of Brisbane come true

How a $10,000 IDEA LAB grant made this Fairytale of Brisbane come true

Daniel Rodriguez really likes Christmas. 

Seriously, he really likes Christmas.

2020 was far from the best year on record, but Rodriguez — who is the owner-operator of Brisbane venues Canvas Club and Electric Avenue & Mrs J. Rabbits Speakeasy — wanted to finish the year with something special. So, he pitched an entry into The Blend IDEA LAB competition. 

The result? He won a $10,000 grant for his effort.

“I couldn’t believe it when I won,” says Rodriguez. “I have never done anything like this before and wanted to give it my all. [The $10,000] gave us the opportunity to start something we had been brainstorming for a while but didn’t have the funds.”

And so Fairytale of Brisbane was born. Rodriguez describes it as “a Christmas winter wonderland,” and it saw him stage popup bars last December at Canvas Club and Electric Avenue, hosting live music from Brisbane bands, featuring loads of classic Christmas jingles and even group sing-a-longs.

“After a very tough year we were able to finish with a bang, everyone got into the Christmas spirit and had a great time, loved the theme and had one of our most successful silly seasons,” Rodriguez says.

The Fairytale in Brisbane was Rodriguez’s way of giving back to the Brisbane hospo community that has given him so much.

“I love what I do and love the industry!” says Rodriguez. “I get to meet new people everyday, getting to check in with all my regulars who are some of my closest friends, working with my awesome team and every day is different with new challenges every week.”

Rodriguez is a classic bartending success story, working his way up from the bottom to now owning two of Brisbane’s most popular venues.

“I have been working in hospitality industry for 15 years,” says Rodrigues. “ “I started as dishy for the Ghanem Group and worked my way up — it was always a dream of mine to open my own place,” he says. 

“I love it! I am a lifer for sure and couldn’t see my self doing anything else,” he says.

But Rodriguez admits he hasn’t done it alone.

“With a lot of hard work, a lot of mistakes and the support my family, friends, and great staff over the years I’m still here,” he says.

The partners he has worked with along the way have also helped. 

“The Blend team are great and have always supported me over the last 10 years with both businesses,” Rodriguez says. “Working with them on the [Fairytale of Brisbane] concept just took it to the next level.”

That initial IDEA LAB investment, says Rodriguez, means that “now each year we can build on the foundation, and get people looking forward to Fairytale of Brisbane every year. 

Rodriguez is even planning a Christmas in July event this year off the back of last year’s success.

“I love Brisbane and as you can tell I love Christmas!” he says.