Scott Leach and Fraser Short will re-open the Imperial Hotel in Sydney’s inner tonight, in time to celebrate Mardi Gras.

The hotel was closed late last year for major renovations, and at 6pm tonight the first stage of the transformation will be revealed to the public.

“It’s the first of many unveilings of the lady of the night. There’s many layers to this petticoat and she opens tonight at 6pm, which is essentially the rebirth of the front bar which is the heart and soul of the business – where the drag queens originally danced on the bar,” explained Leach.

Stage one also includes the opening of the Basement and Priscilla’s restaurant. The latter begins trade from lunch tomorrow, and offers a ceviche- and plant-based menu.

“It’s incredibly targeted to what we think is the inner west crowd,” stated Leach.

As a hub for Sydney’s LGBTIQ community, there is a massive line-up of entertainment this weekend at the hotel to celebrate the 40th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. But Leach is quick to point out that all members of the community are welcome at the Imperial Hotel.

“The pitch of the hotel is to pay homage and respect to the great cultural role this hotel has played in the LGBTIQ community, but at the same time, it’s a contemporary fit-out which is encouraging the eclectic nature of the community to enjoy that all together. It’s not just going to be an LGBTIQ venue, but that’s obviously where it’s sitting.”

The next stage of the Imperial to be completed is the top floor, which will include another dining concept, function room and several bars. It is expected to be open in the third quarter of 2018. Leach and Short have also purchased some adjoining property to the hotel, and will put in further applications to expand the venue’s offering, with the last stage likely to be the outdoor offering in 2019.

“We’re stepping out tonight on stage with the first performance, but this is going to be a series of acts which completes the whole show over about 18 months.”

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