By James Atkinson

A high-profile head chef has joined Watsons Bay Hotel in the first stages of a major overhaul of the Sydney pub by new owners Fraser Short and the Laundy family.

Short told TheShout that since acquiring the pub late last year, he has appointed Eric Jansson, formerly of Icebergs Group, to oversee the menu in the 'beach club', the pub's enormous 850-seat beer garden that has already been made over with new furniture and plants added throughout.

He said the beach club menu is about "good, honest fare", with several fish options, big buckets of prawns, fish tacos, octopus salad, ceviche, steaks and big fresh salads. [continues below]

The 'beach club', Watsons Bay Hotel

Short said the venue is now three weeks into a renovation that will turn the upstairs lounge bar area into a 150-capacity wedding and events centre.

"This is pretty much like having a Jonah's at Palm Beach or Tower Lodge at the Hunter Valley – we can really offer a unique service here that other people can't compete with," he said.

"Every single person I've brought down there has booked a function. It's unrepeatable."

Other changes will include a new outside bar in the beach club that will accommodate service of cocktails, and the possible opening of a fine dining restaurant in the complex, "but that won't be this year".

"Watch this space for the next three years, we'll be growing and evolving this business," Short said.

He said the pub's 32 hotel rooms are of five-star standard and already at 80 per cent occupancy, so the main priority there is to improve the service and experience for guests.

There will also improved access to the beach from the pub, which Short said "offers the uniqueness of being able to go for a swim and in ten steps be inside the beach club having a cocktail".

Short said having the input of pub industry veteran Arthur Laundy as co-owner has been "fantastic".

"He's a big fan of the venue," he said.

"He's very proud of the location, he's very proud of what this pub can possibly achieve. He played rugby for Easts so he knows half the locals here."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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