The famed Oaks Hotel in North Sydney is currently undergoing a $6 million renovation, with publican Andrew Thomas launching three new spaces within the venue.

The renovation is being completed in phases, with Taffy’s – a sports and games bar – set to open first in September. The quirky décor will feature retro games and pop culture references. Behind the bar, a Hulk Hogan novelty beer tap and a life-size cut out of Richie Benaud  take pride of place, while the space also houses the largest foosball table in New South Wales, accommodating eight players.

In contrast, Alala’s is an elegant garden conservatory space that is light-filled with large bay windows. The area overlooks the iconic oak tree at the heart of the hotel.

The two bars pay tribute to members of the longstanding publican family: David ‘Taffy’ Thomas purchased the hotel in 1975 with the support of his mother, Alala. Taffy, 86, can still be found pulling schooners every week from behind the bar.

Connecting the two new spaces is the Oaks Bottle Shop and Takeaway. It will be headed up by a cicerone, and features a communal tasting table that invites guests to ‘try before you buy’. The takeaway element is inspired by a 1940s milk bar, and includes a cast iron oven that will bake fresh bread.

Thomas said that the significant renovation is being undertaken to respond to patron consumption trends.

“Alcohol consumption is down in Australia and we can see this trend in The Oaks. People are drinking less but are drinking better, more premium products. Craft beer and gin have had a great growth within our venue.

“There are areas of our venue that don’t really make any money between 9.00 am and midday so we are revitalising areas of the hotel with food and drink offerings to drive them in earlier.

Thomas concluded:”We know that we can serve the community better, each bar has a distinct identity to draw a crowd for occasions that we aren’t currently known for.”

Each of the three spaces will have its own F&B offering. Taffy’s will serve sports-viewing snacks like duck nachos and Reuben sandwich spring rolls; while Alala’s more refined offering includes tartines and open sandwiches. The takeaway will help The Oaks capitalise on a new market for the venue.

“Home food delivery is a big market in Neutral Bay and convenience of takeaway food in the area so we wanted to tap into that market. With a large bread oven and rotisserie take away chicken, porchetta, salads and veggies, time-poor customers  can drop in and take home some of this fare and grab a bottle of wine or some craft beer.”

Alala’s and the bottle shop and takeaway will launch in October.

The renovation is the largest that The Oaks Hotel has undergone in its 133-year history.

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