By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
The Fitzgibbon family, respected Queensland operators, will open Osbourne Hotel in Fortitude Valley this week.
The family – which owns and operates the award-winning Fitzy’s Toowoomba and Glen Hotel in Eight Mile Plains – has owned the venue since 1980. In almost 40 years the venue has had many different identities, including The Dead Rat Hotel, the Rat & Parrot, and Fringebar.
However with development and a changing demographic in Fortitude Valley, Kathy Fitzgibbon, director, felt it was time that the venue had another transformation, and with it a name change back to the original Osbourne Hotel.
“The hotel had done well as Fringebar, with patrons enjoying the bar and late night feel of the venue, but it had really run its course. The Valley began to change with an influx of apartments, which saw more people moving to the area to live. The development of James Street in New Farm and Gasworks at Teneriffe, also brought more people to the area in general. There has been a re-emergence of the Valley as a good place to live, close to the city, New Farm and the river with bars and restaurants on your doorstep. Office spaces developed so the corporate market has also increased.
“We also had not refurbished the hotel in 14 years. This coupled with the demographic change we were seeing, meant the time was right to launch the new Osbourne, to provide a good quality ‘local’ to those around us.”
Fringebar was closed in January for the transformation, and 10 months later the venue is now ready to re-open as Osbourne Hotel on Friday 6 October. The pub, which was originally built in 1864, has been completely stripped back to its original layout, with the space beside the hotel turned into a bistro and beer garden with a glass roof. The new area, with a capacity for 400 people, doubles the venue’s capacity to 800 pax. The first level of the hotel has also been updated and transformed into function rooms and a private dining room.
“Ultimately our aim is provide a relaxed and welcoming place for the local residents and workers. It will be a place they can come and be in an open, light filled green space – a relief from the more built up feeling of the street. Having said that, we will still provide entertainment for those coming into the Valley from the suburbs on the weekends, looking for a night out and Sunday sessions,” stated Fitzgibbon.
The repositioning of the pub into a more casual local is indicative of the slight slow-down of Fortitude Valley’s positioning as one of Brisbane’s foremost nightlife precincts. Fitzgibbon suggests that this is due in part to the lockout and ID scanning regulations enacted in the state in the last year.
“The entertainment hub has tapered slightly. Brisbane, the ‘new world city’ has had to deal with lockout laws and scanning. This is another challenge to contend with operationally as well as a significant inconvenience for our patrons.”