An old billiards hall made way for a massive beer garden at Victoria Park Hotel, welcoming families, sports lovers and anyone else wanting to soak up some sun.

When Australian Venue Co (AVC) purchased the Victoria Park Hotel in Perth off Coles, the pub had very little outdoor seating. Instead it had a cavernous billiards hall that took up almost the entire back half of the property. That space had seen better days both in terms of use and wear. The area clearly needed a rethink, and taking advantage of Perth’s ideal weather was a no-brainer for the AVC team.

 “There was obviously a huge opportunity to develop it,” states AVC’s WA state manager Joe Bailey.

With that in mind, Bailey and his team took to the community to see what they wanted from the pub. It’s one of three pubs along the Albany Highway in the area, and it was the most in need of revitalisation. From those conversations with locals, the idea emerged of a huge beer garden where everyone was welcome.

“When we started working on the concept we were thinking about building a pub for everyone and every occasion. So we really looked at Vic Park as a whole and the demographic, we spoke to the locals. So whether you wanted to come watch the footy with the boys, or have a celebration or bring the children or your dog, everyone would gel together in the space,” explains Bailey.

“It needed to be a versatile and welcoming space for everyone. So one of the big things for that was a big garden, an open area, and obviously this one is quite a large open area. And we’ve incorporated into it a kids playground and that’s been a huge hit for families.”

Plans for the beer garden got underway in 2019, but were put on hold in early 2020 as covid gripped the nation and kept Western Australia shut to the rest of the country for quite some time. Design was resumed late last year, and construction on the massive beer garden started in February this year. The space – known as The Park – was completed and opened in May.

Including the indoor/outdoor bar, The Park renovation, covering 800 sqm, cost $2.3 million. At first glance it may seem like a lot to spend on a beer garden alone, but the space effectively doubled the footprint of the pub, and allows it to host another 450 people within the space. Bailey considers it money well spent.

“I think from a per square metre [perspective] it was the right number to spend because of the scale and size of the project and what we did to it. But I don’t think it’s excessive. There were some significant works in removing roofs, and structural stuff like having to put cellars in and expand kitchens. But it’s certainly not like we’ve splashed out on fittings of marble or anything like that in the venue. But I think just for the sheer size that’s where the project landed.”

The new space now includes in one corner a family area with low-table seating and a large kids’ playground replete with a large wooden structure that looks like the trams that used to run down Albany Highway. On the opposite side of the main entry from the carpark is an area with high-table seating and lots of screens, perfect for sports viewing. There are also lots of small nooks tucked away along the walls of the space to afford patrons some semi-private dining and socialising experiences. The whole area is then serviced by the indoor/outdoor bar that connects the new beer garden with the front half of the hotel.

Want to keep reading? Check out the rest of the feature below in the September issue of Australian Hotelier.

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