By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
After its recent licensing breaches, the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville, Sydney, has finally had a change in luck. The venue has been purchased by respected hoteliers Fraser Short and Scott Leach for roughly $6.5 million.
The two men bring a multitude of experience to The Imperial between them. Fraser Short is the publican behind The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room and Watsons Bay Hotel, while Scott Leach is President of AHA NSW and also runs the Rose of Australia – another popular Erskineville venue.
Both men are excited to inject some new life into the venue, while retaining aspects of the hotel that have legendary status. “It is our intention, after several months’ consultation, to inject several million dollars into re-positioning the venue with new accommodation and food offerings based around an art deco bar,” Short said.
The renovations will include a customised kitchen and a high-end restaurant. “We will also retain operations of some kind in the iconic cellar bar area, however, the hotel will no longer trade as a nightclub.” There will also be a general sprucing-up of the establishment. "It hasn't has significant renovations in fifteen years and market demands have changed significantly – especially in Erskineville," Short explained.
JLL's Sam Handy, who handled the off-market sale, said, “this transaction is particularly exciting to have been a part of given the parties’ involved vision and food and beverage expertise. The local community and indeed the wider industry should be anticipating something very special to evolve at the Imperial Hotel.”
It’s a change in luck for the hotel, having faced 72-hour closures enforced by the Office of Gaming, Liquor and Racing (OGLR) in both June and July this year. The closures were applied on both occasions after rampant drug use was witnessed by both OGLR inspectors and police officers.
Scott Leach is keen to move the Imperial Hotel on from its chequered history and excited about the collaborative sense of community the Imperial Hotel engenders. “We look forward to working closely with the Erskineville community, including police and the LGBTIQ community, on the future direction of this iconic venue,” he said.
Both publicans are also confident in the policies of the Newtown Liquor Accord which takes effect in September. "It's a really sensibly negotiated outcome," Short states. "One of the first pints on our agenda will be to adopt the Accord once the hotel is open."
The revamped Imperial Hotel is expected to re-open in 2016.
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