PJ Gallagher’s at Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park will be sporting a new name and a million-dollar new look when its new operators open the doors next month.

Watson’s is preparing to open on October 11 following a significant renovation by its new operators, Michael Watson of events company Wats On Events and Danny Stapleton, director of West’s Tigers.

PJ Gallagher’s EQ, which closed last year, has undergone a million-dollar refresh by the pair, who are operating the pub under a ten-year leasehold agreement with the management team at The Entertainment Quarter, John Singleton, Gerry Harvey and Mark Carnegie.

Watson said this is the first venue either of them has operated, and the long-time friends will run the pub under a new entity, Wats On Hospitality.

The venue provided a perfect opportunity to work together, Watson said, and the pair have plans to expand into other venues and locations and grow the Watson’s brand.

“This will be our test case to get our processes and procedures right in a pub environment versus an event environment,” he said.

Watson, with the support of Stapleton, said he spotted an opportunity to transform the large event and restaurant space into a multifaceted, family-friendly venue.

The renovation, which began in May, has seen every part of the venue overhauled to provide a fresher, more open space. The venue makes use of the two-storey interior and has plenty of seating and dining options both inside and out.

Given its proximity to sporting venues – the SCG and the highly anticipated SFS which is scheduled for reopening in 2022 – the pub has numerous big screens including a four-meter alfresco mega-screen.

The large outdoor space, which can hold 200 patrons, is a bonus in the current climate, Watson said. “The fact that we can have a couple of hundred people outside in Covid environment is a big win for us at this time.”

The venue’s outdoor area features a courtyard bar, an alfresco servery and two spotted gum decks. By day, the beer garden will feature acoustic performances and by night, three giant Moreton Bay fig trees adorned with over 2.5km of fairy lights will play a starring role.

Indoors, the main bar and bistro area has been redesigned for more natural light and the main bar features tallow wood custom joinery and a Rivera stone top, home to 32 beer taps.

The function and event space on level one is home to Danny’s Bar which emulates the arched design from the main bar downstairs and features large bi-folding windows which look out onto the fairy-lit fig trees.

The kitchen is headed by Uriel Kilala, Head Chef of the former iconic Martin Place Bar, and the menu will feature pickles, preserves and sauces using fresh, seasonal and local produce.

Watson’s was originally scheduled to open in August, but was postponed to October 18 in light of the latest lockdown, and has now been brought forward a week to coincide with the broader October 11 reopening of hospitality venues to double-vaccinated patrons.

Danny Stapleton and Michael Watson

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