The Winston
The new look at Taffy's sports bar at The Winston.

The Winston, located in Sydney’s northwest, is undergoing a major renovation, refreshing the bistro and Taffy’s sports bar to reflect changing customer demographics.

The first stage of renovations, now complete, involved a redesign of Taffy’s sports bar, updating the space with a palette of neutral colours and improved lighting. Recycled denim is a key design element, used in both the upholstery and as a tabletop covering. The Thomas family has engaged Sydney-based design firm Pony Design Co. for the interiors, and hospitality fit-out specialists The Chillie Group for construction, for both stages of the renovation.

Publican Andrew Thomas said that the redesign of Taffy’s sports bar reflects a shift in clientele.

“We’re finding that a lot more women are interested in sport because they are playing more, so we wanted to make the sports bar more female friendly. The design had a female audience in mind, and it’s not too feminine and not too masculine. It’s a great meeting point between the two,” he said.

With the bistro’s last renovation taking place in 2013, Thomas said that it was time to refresh the area as well. In addition, the bistro is seeing a similar change in its customer base as Taffy’s.

“The demographics in Winston Hills are changing, and we needed to cater for that. The bistro skews towards the female market as well, and to families,” he said.

Reflecting the extent of the renovation, the bistro will be rebranded as Cala. Evoking retro establishments like Palm Springs and Santa Monica Hotel, Cala will feature mid-century furniture, timber framing and pitched ceilings. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls will open out to the outdoor dining area, which has been recently renovated.

A cocktail cart will be added to the offering at Cala, allowing customers to customise their cocktail orders, which will be made tableside. Currently, The Winston is seeing a swing towards vodka-based cocktails, with mojitos and margaritas expected to increase in popularity in the warmer months.

“If you want a mojito and want to add some blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries to your mojito, we can mix that up tableside.

“Cocktails are strong at The Winston, so we want to support that. People are drinking less, especially at lunchtimes. Some workplaces have a strict no-alcohol policy, or people are getting fitter and don’t want to be drinking. We’ll also offer zero sugar soft drinks and other drinks options,” Thomas said.

In addition, the bistro menu is being adjusted, with items such as Belgian-style mussels and fried burrata with Provençal sauce currently being trialled. Thomas said one factor influencing the menu shift has been rising produce costs.

“Steak was our old focus, but red meat is getting expensive, so we’ve had to cut that menu back. We’re focusing on chicken and other items,” he said.

The bistro will continue to operate throughout the renovation, with construction taking place in sections and the outdoor area being used during the final stages. Renovations are expected to reach completion by early spring.

Thomas family to keep The Oaks

Ending months of speculation, the Thomas family confirmed that it will retain ownership of The Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay. A sale agreement was initially reached in February 2023, but the prospective buyer had difficulty securing the necessary funds, and the sale was never finalised. The Oaks is now off the market, and Andrew Thomas said that the family is looking forward to continuing its long history of ownership of the hotel.

“We’re happy to hang onto it. We’ve just repainted the outside, we’ve ordered 400 new chairs for the beer garden, and we’ve just changed out the tabletops as well. We’re here for the long term.”

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