By Clyde Mooney – editor Australian Hotelier
Having taken the reins in May, WDS Group is gearing up at one of Paddington’s best-loved hotels with a “new team, new attitude”.
The hotel group kick-started last year by former C-Inc GM Steven Speed and Ferrier Hodgson consultant Peter Walker purchased the Bellevue Hotel from Riversdale, as that group divested into larger venues in both Sydney and Brisbane.
Speed told TheShout they determined to take time to understand the nature of the underperforming Paddington stalwart, and have begun the re-invention, paying particular homage to a ‘local experience’.
Ahead of a large-scale renovation in early 2015, WDS has appointed new management staff and talent to return the hotel “to the forefront of the community’s mind and taste buds”.
“We saw an opportunity when we purchased the Bellevue, it’s in a fantastic area, is well known however underperforming and seemed to have lost its way.
“We appointed a general manager with a strong F&B background in Ben Pearce (pictured, right), and we were also very lucky to secure a well-known chef with the appointment [last] week of James Metcalfe (pictured, left).”
Bringing experience from the likes of degustation heaven Becasse, Metcalfe worked with Speed whilst transforming the offering at Kings Cross’ The Bourbon, while UK-born Pearce brings knowledge from his time with Urban Purveyor Group and Bondi’s The Eastern.
Metcalfe has in fact been appointed Group executive chef, also overseeing the menus at WDS venues the Fortune of War, The Push and The Russell Hotel, in The Rocks, which has expanded enormously since acquired in July 2013.
Regaining its ‘local feel’ has thus far included only minor alterations to the building along with an injection of energetic new staff, with the major aesthetic upgrades scheduled for early next year.
“January will come on fast, so expectations are that Ben and James will concentrate on putting their teams in place, whilst we make small subtle changes to the menus and operation and leave the big surprise for early 2015,” says Speed.