The Exchange Hotel in Balmain has undergone a tumultuous couple of years, but this week re-opened its doors as a public bar on the ground floor – the first time since mid-2016.

The hotel was sold for approximately $5.5 million to local businessman John Agdemis in August 2016, but has been closed since April 2017. Recently, David King, owner of Ideal Space – a provider of serviced office rentals across Sydney – has taken on the leasehold.  After taking on the Exchange Hotel in Sydney’s inner-west, King re-opened the building as a public bar on the ground floor, and open-plan office spaces on the multiple levels above.

In bringing back the local watering hole for Balmain, King hopes to reinvent the lively atmosphere the Exchange Hotel has been known for throughout its 132-year history. The public bar offering serves up an extensive selection of spirits and cocktails, as well as local beers and wine showcasing the best of Australia’s wine regions.

The simple food menu focuses on items that can easily be shared between multiple people – a charcuterie board, cheese selection and seven pizzas make up the lion’s share of the menu, while there is a poached chicken salad for those looking for a healthier option.

King hopes to attract families back to the Exchange with the approachable offering, and renew the venue as a ‘local’. As his first F&B operation, King has enjoyed the process of opening up the public bar, and has learnt a lot from the experience.

“It has been a fun yet challenging journey so far opening The Exchange – I have realised that in F&B there are a lot of little things you must execute well to provide memorable experiences for whoever walks through the door. Getting the one percenters right makes a massive difference.”

The businessman said the use of the upper floors as office spaces has also proven to create a symbiotic relationship with the public bar.

“Having an office space above works well as it is a business that is in operation right away. We have been able to establish great relationships with tenants, that provide beneficial feedback and also help by promoting the space as they quite rightly feel a sense of ownership.”

King hopes to further expand the F&B offering at Exchange Hotel, with plans to create a bistro/dining area in the former functions room towards the rear of the ground floor.

Exchnage Hotel Balmain

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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