GPO Hotel
The GPO Hotel in Fortitude Valley operated for many years as a popular nightclub.

Artesian Hospitality have unveiled some of their plans for the well-known GPO Hotel building, announcing multiple appointments to lead a fine-dining offer at the venue.

Artesian Hospitality – known for Cali Beach Club and Surfers Pavilion – announced in August that the they would be taking over the famed GPO in Fortitude Valley. The hotel had operated as a popular nightclub for many years, but closed at the start of the pandemic. It’s the first of a few sites within Brisbane that Artesian plans to make its own.

“We couldn’t pass up the opportunity restore this building and bring to life a variety of new and iconic Brisbane venues,” stated Artesian Hospitality’s founder and managing partner, Matthew Keegan.

“Our vision for the historical 2000sqm, multi building site in the thriving Fortitude Valley is to deliver a variety of unique experiential venues that patrons love to visit again and again.”

Details for one  fine-dining concept planned for the GPO is now coming to light, with the announcement of new appointments within the team. Renowned sommelier and ex-general manager of OTTO Brisbane, Alan Hunter, has been announced to head up the team at the GPO.

Hunter has joined Artesian Hospitality as a partner and director of restaurant operations; overseeing the creation of their new contemporary dining venue, slated to open within the renovated GPO early next year.

Under Hunter’s prior leadership at OTTO the restaurant was awarded Wine List of the Year and Two Hats in the Good Food Guide in 2019, which described Hunter as having an “almost telepathic sense for customer needs”. Hunter was also named Pol Roger’s 2013 Sommelier of the Year.

“I am thrilled to join Artesian in delivering a truly exceptional venue offering to a place that is close to the hearts of so many Brisbanites,” said Hunter.

“It’s a really exciting project to be a part of. The GPO revival is set to create a new benchmark for Brisbane’s burgeoning foodie scene and I can’t wait to welcome guests through its doors next year.”

The dining team  at GPO is bolstered by the appointment of internationally recognised chef, Richard Ousby, as executive chef of the venue’s contemporary dining offering. Ousby, a Brisbane local, spent three years refining his talents in England at Michelin 3-star restaurant, Waterside Inn, before returning to join restaurateur Peter Gilmour as sous chef at Sydney’s Quay.

Since then, Ousby has made his return to Brisbane, stepping into the role of Executive Chef of Stokehouse restaurants, overseeing the Melbourne and Brisbane establishments.

Ousby is thrilled to be diving back into the fast-paced environment of premium dining, describing the opportunity to join Hunter and Artesian on the GPO venture as “something truly special”.

“We are delighted to have Alan and Richard join the group. They’re the perfect team to lead us into a very exciting new era for Artesian and for one of Brisbane’s most beloved establishments,” stated Keegan.

“The talent and experience of Alan and Richard epitomises the nature of what will be unveiled within the new GPO precinct. We’re so excited for what’s to come, and can’t wait to cement the precinct’s status as a staple within the Brisbane social scene, while introducing it to a broader audience of sophisticated food and wine lovers.”

Artesian is currently underway on the $7+ million renovation and preservation of the Fortitude Valley GPO. The venue is anticipated to open in early 2023. Works have also begun on a larger  coastal site surrounding Cali Beach Club at Surfers Paradise, with the first of multiple venues under construction.

Long-term play for Woolloongabba Hotel

The Woolloongabba Hotel is located on a prominent corner site of the Gabba Central shopping centre, in the vicinity of Gabba Stadium.

Elsewhere in Brisbane, The Woolloongabba Hotel’s leasehold interest  has sold via an off-market process led by Savills Australia’s Leon Alaban and Tony Bargwanna. The leasehold had been owned by a private consortium for 11 years.

The hotel occupies a tenancy in the prime location of 803 Stanley Street, 2kms south-east of the CBD, in The Gabba Central a shopping centre anchored by Coles. The hotel has existed on the prominent corner site since 1868.

“Gabba Central is well known for being close to the action of Gabba Stadium and a convenient shopping hub catering to locals and workers in the area,” stated Alaban.

“This purchase is a strategic acquisition for the buyer, considering the vast amount of infrastructure projects in Woolloongabba’s pipeline”.

Brisbane is set to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the existing Woolloongabba cricket stadium to be re-developed in a $1-billion project, in order to serve as the main stadium for the Games, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies as well as athletics.

“In addition to the Games, the planning arrangements for the future Woolloongabba Cross River Rail station will provide passengers with high frequency services, as well as improved access to The Gabba Stadium and Woolloongabba’s local entertainment district,” added Bargwanna.

Woolloongabba Hotel’s offer includes a main bar, dining area, gaming room with 11 EGMs, an on-site bottleshop and three detached bottleshops.

“The Games and its associated infrastructure enhancements will see Woolloongabba transform into the hub of Brisbane. It will not only provide an easier way to access the suburb but will see an explosion of patronage to the area before, during, and after the Olympics, adding significant popularity and a growth in the area’s property prices,” stated Alaban.

Savills Australia would not be drawn on the identity of the acquiring party or the price paid for Woolloongabba Hotel.

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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