Cocktails in the iconic Chapman Building in Wyong
Jonathan Lee was born and raised in Wyong and started his bar career at The Grand Hotel which now happens to be across the lawn from his very own speakeasy cocktail bar Jerry Sent Me.
This is a full circle story of a troubled teen turned inner-city bartender returning to home turf to open what is one the coolest bars on the Central Coast.
Jerry Sent Me serves up top-shelf cocktails and grazing boards worthy of any city bar in a super cool but relaxed atmosphere.
Jonathan has an impressive bartending history and has brought the tricks of the downtown trade back to the Coast. He worked under ‘the Godfather of tequila’ Phil Bailey at the famous Cafe Pacifico in Darlinghurst and poured up drinks at the infamous Club 77 basement on William Street.
“I’d emerge from the venue in the early morning exhausted, filthy and looked down on bypassing businessmen on their way to work, and I loved it! At that moment I knew I was destined to be in the bar game for life,” Jonathan said.
After a decade of managing various venues across Sydney City, Jonathan felt the pull to head back to the Coast, first taking on the role of Venue Manager at Hotel Gosford. It was obvious that the coast had grown in his absence yet Jonathan still found something missing in the venues close to home.
“I'm creative and I love all things artistic and the culture of the city, Newtown and Surry Hills was just unmatched. I missed the city and the venues within it so I decided if I can’t have my city then I’d bring a little piece of it to my town!”
And that’s exactly what Jonathan has done at Shop 7 in the historic Chapman Building of Wyong. From the heavy barn-style doors, to the timber rafters, and rustic concrete floors, he has pieced every little aspect of the venue together.
“From various pieces of antique furniture sourced from closed venues across Darlinghurst to the heavily dated artworks, everything in Jerry Sent Me has a story of its own which gives a particular vibe that can’t be imitated.”
Jonathan has worked hard to create an atmosphere that people enjoy, and stepping into Jerry Sent Me is proof that Coasties can and should have quality venues that stack up against Sydney. The staff are engaged, interactive, and highly knowledgeable when it comes to the cocktail game, and the vibe oozes cool without being pretentious.
“The look on the faces of the first timers as they instinctively duck their heads to walk through the low set door is a look of amazement and as cliche as it might sound, that's the payoff to me. People are excited, and it is humbling beyond words.”
So as a self-confessed ‘punk kid’ not seizing his full potential, Jonathan has set his own challenge to showcase the best product and service on the Coast but also has plans to give back to those in need of a hand up like he was.
“I feel I owe it to those who saw the potential in me back then to use my knowledge and passion to help others get their own adventures underway.”
The future of Jerry Sent Me includes a local hospitality training program to support troubled people to see what’s possible and help drive the hospitality industry to the next level for everyone to enjoy.
And the name? Even that has a unique meaning that pays homage to the underbelly of Sydney, tales of slums, gangs, speakeasies, and the two ‘Queens of Surry Hills’. But we won’t spoil that story for you, instead, send yourself to Jerry Sent Me, order a cocktail and let Jonathan regale you with it himself.