By Clyde Mooney
Two vintage Sydney pubs are due to reopen in the next fortnight after extensive renovations and interest from nightclub owner John Ibrahim.
The grand old Carrington Hotel in Surry Hills and recently derelict Abercrombie Hotel in Ultimo are new projects for the colourful Kings Cross identity and a group of partners.
The group bring what seems to be a new era for the aging venues, now associated with a number of new-age hotspots in and around Sydney.
Ibrahim’s long-term associate Greg Magree is one of the partners, quoted as ‘raising the bar’ in notorious Kings Cross with his celebrity-blessed The Piano Room.
Also involved is James Miller, co-founder of the hugely successful Sumo Salad chain and owner of Balmain’s stylish Ruby L’otel, specifically targeting women with its lengthy cocktail menu and international cuisine.
The final partner is Jaime Worth, former music industry professional and partner with Ibrahim and Miller at the recently overhauled Norfolk Hotel, on Cleveland St.
The Norfolk Hotel re-opened last October in a high-profile media focus befitting its proprietor and has been described as ‘retro European-inspired rancho relaxo’.
It has thus far proved a successful formula, and joins Magree’s Piano Room as a new model of pub styled more as an entertainment venue, with an emphasis on having no poker machines.
The Carrington, which first opened 1877, was purchased by the group in April, while the Abercrombie, having closed down in early 2010, is under lease from international property developer Fraser Property.
The exact nature of the refurbishments has not yet been revealed, but it is likely the group will continue the recent trend of high-flying hoteliers bringing a more nightclub-based perspective to distressed pubs.
Ibrahim remains the focus of NSW police attention, having successfully eluded investigations and attempts to prosecute him for over a decade, and surviving an attempted shooting at his Dover Heights home last week.