The Duke of Brunswick, or The dob as it’s affectionately known, will be celebrating its 160th anniversary this Saturday.
The inner-city Adelaide pub will host celebrations this weekend, starting with an 1858-inspired dinner on Friday night, featuring dishes such as rabbit terrine, kangaroo ragout and a deconstructed trifle using house-made Anzac biscuits. Attending the dinner will be the family of the original stonemason that worked on the hotel 160 years ago. On Saturday, the pub will host a family fun day with a petting zoo for kids, and a truck full of Xboxes to entertain teens.
The celebrations are being hosted by new licensee Simone Douglas, who took over the lease of the Gilbert Street pub in late October last year. The hotel has gone through an insecure three years, with the old owner removing the former lessee in 2015 and closing the pub. They then reopened the pub and operated it themselves, before selling the freehold late last year. That’s when Douglas came on board.
Douglas – who worked for ALH Group for almost a decade in the early 2000s turning around under-performing pubs – has turned the pub into a community and business hub, activating the space in dynamic ways, and hosting community groups not generally associated with pub activity.
The dob hosts morning pilates classes twice a week, improv theatre nights most Thursdays, and art classes and Dungeons & Dragons one Sunday a month each. A pub choir will also be starting up mid-March.
“It’s not your typical pub, but it’s what I think a pub should be. I’ve been in the industry since I was 16. We ripped out the TAB, there’s no gaming, there’s no Keno. There’s only one TV screen in the whole pub. It’s very much a community pub now,” explained Douglas.
“It’s a pub for people who wouldn’t typically go to the pub.”
Douglas has also capitalised on the second floor space, sub-letting it as office space. She also has her own social media agency, which now runs out of an office on the dob’s second floor. Other businesses leasing space include a family lawyer and a couple of graphic designers. There’s also a more flexible co-working space.
The marriage of the community hub downstairs and the business hub upstairs has also meant that the hotel hosts a lot of corporate functions, from business lunches to networking events. It fits in with Douglas’ ethos ‘Seriously Social’, which is how she approaches all of her business ventures.
Since taking over, the pub has been trading well with revenue trending upwards, and Douglas credits her experience in both pub operations and the corporate world.
“Back in the days before the internet, good publicans were always the hub of their community. They knew who did what and where. So that’s very much my approach. I’ve had a whole heap of training on effective networking, referral marketing, how to build business communities. So we’re really just applying that to a pub model.”