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Southbanker

10 Sep 2019

Southbanker Image

A dream life

By Meg Hill

“Eight years ago, we decided to quit our jobs on the same day and plan an adventure.”

Jeanelle Mariani was describing how she and husband Dean went from working corporate jobs they hated, to living their dream lives.

They live in Southbank and own CBD venues polepole (pronounced pol-eh-pol-eh) and Glamp, which embody both the Melbourne hospitality scene and their East-African inspiration.

In addition, Jeanelle works part time for not-for-profit Plan International.

“We spent a summer in Europe, four months in East Africa and then travelled to the US,” Jeanelle said.

The couple went through Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It was on our last night in Tanzania, on our 10th anniversary, when we had the conversation about what we would do with our lives, what we were going to do when we got home,” she said.

“We asked if there was a chance of us living out our dream life what would that look like, and we wrote it down on a scrap piece of paper.”

“I said I wanted to work in a not-for-profit and give back, and Dean wanted to open a bar. We just made a deal we would chase that dream.”

Jeanelle said they drew out a mock timeline on the spot and wrote a pretend date that could work if they started working toward the goal immediately.

“The day we got the keys for polepole it was like three days out from that date,” Jeanelle said.

The couple have been living in Eureka for just over a year – but Southbank for five. They made the move from Northcote to set up the venues, and Jeanelle’s day job is in Southbank too.

“Our whole lives seem to be basically in Southbank and crossing to the city over here,” Dean said.

He said the “novelty” of Southbank definitely hasn’t worn off it – although it is changing.

“In five years, it’s changed considerably and it’s continuing to change a lot,” he said.

“It used to feel residential but kind of go-in and go-out. Now there’s more and more amenities and liveable space, there’s stuff for locals.”

Their African-inspired CBD venues span two levels – downstairs is polepole for dining and upstairs is the more informal Glamp.

“We had this dream of when people walk upstairs, they’re just totally transported, it’s not an extension of downstairs, but an entirely different place,” Jeanelle said.

And they nailed it – Glamp is unlike any other bar around. It’s named after the concept of “glamping” and huge communal tents dominate the space.

“When we travelled through East-Africa we were very much budget campers and we heard about people who were apparently glamping and thought ‘god it’d be nice to do that one day’,” Jeanelle said.

“If you come in here on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll see groups merge into other groups and people meet new people. It’s a ‘you’re-all-under-the-same-tent’ party.”

 

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