Australian Hotelier June 2023

Page 14


A must-attend event for Australia’s leading pub operators and senior managers, the packed program of content from leading operators and industry experts will provide practical business advice, introduce new commercial ideas and offer plenty of inspiration.

For further program and speaker details head to

Thanks to our Sponsors

Platinum Sponsor: Gold Sponsors:

Introducing the Summit’s stellar speaker line up.
Paul Walton, Interim Managing Director, ALH Hotels Elliot Solomon, Chief Executive Officer, Solotel Nick Wills, Chief Executive Officer, Tilley & Wills Hotels Marianne Mewett, Chief Experience Officer, Australian Venue Co Mel Porter, General Manager, Porters Plainland Hotel Nicola Palmer, Creative Licensee & Executive Chef, Watervale Hotel Rob Comiskey, Director, Comiskey Group Bernie Hogan, Chief Executive Officer, Queensland Hotels Association Brad Jenkins, Head of Leisure, Lewis Land Group 24-25 July 2023 Eatons Hill Hotel & Accommodation, Queensland TICKETS ON SALE NOW Thanks to our Sponsors Silver Sponsors:


Editor’s Note

I’VE BEEN working on the Pub Leaders Summit for the last couple of months, and what has really struck me is the willingness of pub operators and industry players to be involved in the event. It would be easy and unsurprising for operators to want to play their hand close to their chests and not want to reveal anything to peers who are some of their competitors. Instead, what I’ve found is that many operators understand that each venue is unique and that by pulling together and sharing ideas, we can make the industry stronger and more dynamic as a whole. It’s heartening, to say the least.

As such, I think this year’s program is very strong and will be a benefit to any publican

who attends. We’ve also included some elements we’ve never done before, including a breakfast masterclass, hosted by platinum sponsor Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, as well as a half-day study tour. Check out more details on the Pub Leaders Summit on page 6, and don’t forget to grab your tickets!

In the meantime, please enjoy this latest issue of Australian Hotelier, once again highlighting the incredible work of publicans across the country.


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Next Month ➤ Pub Dining ➤ Pub Leaders Summit Preview ➤ NOLO P
4 | Australian Hotelier

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Speaker announcements for the Pub Leaders Summit program continue, with more big names in the industry joining the program. Those include Elliot Solomon, CEO of Solotel, who will discuss live music and entertainment, which is a big focus for the pub group.

Also joining the program is Brad Jenkins, head of leisure for Lewis Land Group, which owns The Belvedere and Komo Hotels in Queensland, as well as large-format pubs The Fiddler and Camden Valley Inn in greater Sydney. Jenkins will be joining two panels on the day, including the gaming and wagering panel, as well as a session on the current economic landscape.

Joel Cronan, GM of Operations for Redcape, will be discussing staffing strategy; while Scott Assender, operations specialist for Kickon Group will be discussing one of his main focuses within the industry: the customer experience.

Big picture thinking will also be touched upon in presentations made on the day, with James Phillips from CGA drawing on the company’s local and global on-premise data to gauge what trends operators should be paying attention to in their venues. Chris Loukakis, head of strategy for Example, will look at the big cultural shifts happening globally, and what that may men for hospitality.

“The program is really shaping up to offer a wide range of experiences and expertise on some really pressing topics that are affecting the industry right now, so we think there will be a lot of great content for attendees to draw upon and get inspired by,” stated Australian Hotelier managing editor Vanessa Cavasinni.

Inspiration can also be found at the Pub Leaders Summit showcase, that will run all day throughout the conference, with

exhibits, information and advice from sponsors, including Gold sponsors JLL, Entain Venues, Fever Tree and Better Beer.

Additional sessions

Besides the full day of content, two additional sessions are also available to pub operators attending the Pub Leaders Summit. Platinum sponsor, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, will host the Breakfast Masterclass. This additional session, with limited availability, will see Tobias Hoogewerff – VP Sales Licensed Australia for Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, present a 45-minute masterclass on Market Insights & Business Intelligence, as relating to drinks categories on the on-premise. Breakfast will also be provided during the masterclass.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners will also be hosting the networking drinks at the end of the conference, from 4:30-6pm.

For the first time, the Pub Leaders Summit will also include a second day of programming – the Pub Leaders Summit half-day study tour. For an additional cost, pub operators can join the study tour, which will visit three hotels in the greater Brisbane area. The first two pubs on the tour have been announced, with visits planned to The Belvedere at Woody Point for a sneak peek of massive renovations that have been underway since 2022; as well as a visit to The Brook Hotel, just reopened this week after a $31m renovation by ALH Hotels. The third pub to be visited will be announced shortly.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

In the news
Brad Jenkins, Scott Assender and Elliot Solomon
6 | Australian Hotelier

In a City of Sydney webinar, Justin Hemmes, CEO of Merivale, discussed how he thinks the hospitality industry is faring postcovid and in light of tightening economic conditions.

In the session, Hemmes was asked about what he thought of the state of hospitality post-covid, and he was effusive with his praise for both its current strength and potential.

“We find ourselves in the most incredible situation. I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and for me, these are the most exciting times I’ve ever seen.”

Hemmes explained that before covid, Sydney nightlife in particular was centred significantly around Friday and Saturday nights, but the lockdowns made people re-prioritise going out, creating a week-round night-time economy.

“It’s brought out our innate passion and need to connect with others, because we had that stripped from us for two years to varying degrees. But as humans we need connection with family, with friends, with loved ones, and meeting new people. And now that desire has come out so strong because of covid.

To ensure that there is enough on offer to keep the seven-day nighttime going, the CEO said Merivale has invested heavily in longer and later trading hours, more shifts for employees, and live music and other forms of entertainment. Hemmes said it’s imperative that hospitality operators keep their offers dynamic and lively to allow this cultural and behavioral change towards going out any night of the week intact.

“I really feel, for me, it’s like the ‘Roaring 2020s,’” stated Hemmes. “We have to really ride this wave to keep the momentum going for years to come.”

Economic headwinds and customer experience

With cost-of-living rising, inflation not yet under control and interest rate increases affecting many Australians, smaller hospitality businesses are the most worried about the current landscape and how to navigate their businesses through it. Hemmes referred to how Merivale handled a similar situation during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008, and the opportunities it afforded the business.

“I’m the ultimate optimist, so I try to find an opportunity with everything. I remember the last time we had an economic crisis back in 2008, and everyone was talking doom and gloom, I grabbed my senior people together and said ‘We’ve got some really exciting times coming up’. I said, ‘We’re actually going to become an employer again. Because prior to that, if someone turned up and wrote their name correctly on the application form, they got the job. Now, we can actually recruit the best.”

While the CEO acknowledged that spending habits do shift in tough times, he noted that F&B venues stayed fairly resilient – as long as the customer experience was top-notch.

“When you do come across troubled times, the better experience you can give the customer, the busier you will become, because people want to be in a positive and uplifting environment. So if you do your job well and create the best environment in your own little ecosystem, then I actually think you’ll become busier, because the pie gets smaller, but you can get a bigger piece of it.”

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Justin Hemmes, centre right, at Merivale’s 2023 staff party Justin Hemmes: “I’m the ultimate optimist”
June 2023 | 7 NEWS

Victoria’s best pubs and people celebrated

The Australian Hotels Association Victoria (AHA Vic) held its 2023 State Awards for Excellence at Crown Palladium recently, celebrating Victoria’s diverse array of venues and influential figures.

The sold-out gala dinner and awards ceremony saw 40 categories for Victoria’s pubs and people across regional and metropolitan venues. More than 1200 people attended the awards ceremony to celebrate the best Victoria’s hospitality industry has to offer.

Paddy O’Sullivan, CEO of AHA Vic, said: “The AHA (Vic) State Awards for Excellence is a celebration of the accomplishments of Victoria’s pubs and hotels, where we come together to recognise outstanding hospitality service and delivery.

“We also express gratitude to the dedicated pub and hotel staff for their invaluable contributions to ensure the success of our industry.”

The ‘Nikakis Benchmark Award,’ named after the late Nick Nikakis, is the most prestigious award of the night which recognises an individual or organisation who by their sustained performance and commitment, serve as an inspiration to all in the industry.

In 2023, Brian Kearney was honoured with this title. Brian’s tenure as Director of Liquor Licensing and CEO of AHA (Vic) made a significant, positive impact on the licensed hospitality landscape in Victoria.

The highly anticipated ‘Overall Hotel of the Year- Metropolitan’ was was won by the esteemed Terminus Hotel Fitzroy North, with the pub also claiming Chef of the Year and Best Presented Beer.

The Terminus Hotel is owned and operated by Kickon Group and Founder & Director, Craig Shearer told Australian Hotelier: “We are ecstatic, I’m filled with immense pride to have our Terminus Fitzroy North receive three awards including best

presented beer, our culinary director Jake Furst receiving Chef of the Year and most notably receiving Hotel of the Year.

“Over the last few years, we made the conscious shift to be a values-based company, we measure the success of our venues through the feedback and joy of our people and customers.

“To be nominated in 14 categories is an incredible achievement and we are thankful that our team continue to deliver amazing.”

The Ian Larkin Overall Hotel of the Year – Regional award was won by The Grovedale Hotel, which has been family-owned for a number of generations with Joel Taylor, and his father John, currently at the helm.

Joel told Australian Hotelier: “We were absolutely thrilled with our awards, its such an honour to be recognised on such a special night that the AHA Vic put on and with such high quality competition, it means so much. The success we’ve had at Grovedale is a true reflection on the staff we have empowered to run our hotel and carry out our vision for hospitality.

“For me, hospitality has always been about people, and the management at the Grovey have been able to create a work environment and culture that people just want to be around. Both John and I are incredibly proud of our team and they are deserved winners of these fantastic awards.”

Over 76 pubs contested for the coveted ‘People’s Choice Award’ voted by the general public, with The Star Hotel Sale, emerging as the fan-favourite among its community.

This year, JBS Hospitality Group were announced as the winners of ‘Best Hotel Group Operator’ in recognition of the group’s exceptional performance in managing a range of highly regarded venues throughout Melbourne, including Dick Whittington Tavern, Grosvenor Hotel and Hotel Brighton.

8 | Australian Hotelier NEWS
JBS Hospitality was named Best Hotel Group Operator


Famed Sydney venue, Club 77, is in the process of securing its own security master licence. Director Dane Gorrel, a hospitality veteran, told The Shout why 77 was bringing security in-house.

“At the end of the day, we’re just not happy with how our security, or security in general, has operated in the past,” Gorrel says.

“We’re working with a third party provider of security, they [agency door staff] answer to their security company, they don’t really answer to us.

“We want to build our own team that works for us directly, and that we can invest our time and money into, to train and develop the security staff more into safety officers than security,” he continues.

“We don’t really have any troubles at 77, we want to be able to train these people [incoming security staff] to have the same values, the same morals, as us, and work in conjunction with us to provide a safer and more inclusive space every time we open,” Gorrel says.

Moreover, Gorrel simply felt that security currently on offer in Sydney was not really up to scratch.

“We have had a lot of issues with security in the past – we feel that they either come to us and they’re not trained properly, or they don’t have the same moral values as us, or they don’t have the same business goals as us.

“Don’t get me wrong – there’s been times when we build up with regular guards, but that does tend to change and fluctuate quite a lot. We’re looking for long term employees or long security staff that can work with us and build a future with us, just as we’re building a long-term, sustainable business.”

The shift to in-house security at Club 77 partly takes overseas inspiration.

“It’s from our research of what’s happening around the world, mainly in Europe – how clubs are operating their policies and procedures, and how things are working. That’s what we’ve adopted here.

“Again, it seems to me that they [European door staff] are more safety officers than security personnel. What does that mean? They’re there to provide a safe environment and a safe space for everyone that comes through those doors,” explains Gorrel.

“We’re not looking for big security guards. We’re looking for people that first and foremost put the customer experience first.

“Have the right morals, the right background, in a sense, to deal with sensitive topics and sensitive issues – people who are willing to accept diversity, inclusion, all of that sort of stuff. That’s what we see happening overseas.”

As for the actual procedure of acquiring the security master licence, which the venue has almost completed, Gorrel says it was reasonably straightforward.

“It’s been a little bit time-consuming and there’s been a little bit of back and forth, but it’s been a simple enough process,” the 77 Director comments.

As to whether he expects other venues to follow suit, Gorrel says it will depend on the venue, and the operator, at hand.

“I just don’t know if people are willing to take on the added risk,” Gorrel says.

“If this comes off, I’ll be the master security licence-holder personally, but I’ll also be the licensee. That is a big amount of responsibility placed on one person to be honest. But that’s what we feel is going to be best for our business.”

Club 77 director Dane Gorrell
10 | Australian Hotelier NEWS

Better Beer releases flavourforward ale

Just months after its last release, Better Beer has launched Arvo Ale, a citrusy and sessionable pacific ale.

THE NEWEST addition to the Better Beer portfolio, Better Beer Arvo Ale, is already a favourite among the brand’s dedicated fans. A refreshing and flavourful pacific ale style beer, Better Beer CEO and Co-Founder Nick Cogger expects Arvo Ale to be a hit in the on premise as well.

“Arvo Ale is a seriously sessionable craft beer – it’s so easy to drink without being too heavy. We’re already seeing the Better Beer community absolutely frothing on it, so we’re quietly confident it’s going to be a challenger brand in the on prem that punters are going to be asking for,” Cogger commented.

The use of Galaxy and Vic Secret hops provides flavours of passionfruit and citrus, with pale wheat malt making sure the beer is still thirst-quenching and easy-drinking.

“So many consumers love Better Beer and we were super keen to develop a product range for all beer drinkers. Arvo Ale rounds out our product mix perfectly, giving customers something a bit more flavour-forward,” Cogger added.

The Arvo Ale joins Better Beer’s pre-existing portfolio, consisting of Zero Carb Zero Sugar lager, alcoholic Ginger Beer, Zero Alc lager, and the recently launched Middy. The Better Beer team describes Cogger as a health-conscious drinks enthusiast, so naturally Arvo Ale continues the “better for you” trend of other Better Beer offerings. Each can contains only 96 calories, and there is no sugar in the beer altogether.

Better Beer is more than happy to assist with promoting its new and existing products in the on premise. Its national brand ambassadors are available to host bar shouts, allowing guests to get a free taste of Arvo Ale at their favourite venue. Additionally, Better Beer has drawn in a dedicated community, both online and in the on premise.

“Since we launched the brand in November 2021, we’ve amassed 133,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook, so

whenever someone supports us by ranging one of our beers, we’ll always make sure we can give back and give them a shout out to our highly engaged online community,” Cogger concluded.

Better Beer Arvo Ale is available in 355mL cans and 50L kegs.

If you’re interested in stocking Arvo Ale at your venue, contact Mighty Craft at or call (03) 9811 6827.

12 | Australian Hotelier COVER STORY
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Making your business tick with tech

On-premise venues need so many gadgets and programs to help the business run, but choosing the right hardware to optimise your operations can make all the difference when it comes to increasing revenue. Check out some of the latest products and innovations that have got us excited.

Zeller’s EFTPOS solution

With over 35,000 Australian businesses now using Zeller’s smarter EFTPOS solutions, Zeller is Australia’s fastest-growing local fintech. Independent pubs across the country are signing up to secure more affordable EFTPOS fees, no monthly terminal rental costs, and no lock-in contracts.

Zeller has experienced significant uptake of its products from Australian pubs and venues since launching in May 2021. This growth is led by a number of key differentiators for its merchants when compared to the typical bank-issued payment solutions.

Clients of Zeller say that what makes its solution unique includes:

• Durable construction: Zeller’s merchants have attested to the fact that the Zeller EFTPOS Terminal can handle everyday damage and spills that happen in a busy pub environment. In a recent demonstration with a prominent Melbourne publican, the owner poured a glass of water on the Zeller Terminal to test its ability to handle a wet working environment. Zeller Terminal’s large, durable touchscreen display continued to work perfectly in this authentic pub situation.

• Smarter surcharging: Zeller makes passing on transaction fees to patrons simple. Merchants can choose to pass on the entire fee, a percentage of the fee or none - with the toggle of a switch. Many other EFTPOS providers do not have this feature, driving many to switch to Zeller. Reducing costs for pub owners is particularly important with the increasing cost of overheads as

well as the rapid increase in the volume of card payments being processed at pubs.

• User-friendly tech: Zeller Terminal is simple to use, meaning staff can be quickly trained to use the payment terminals. This is crucial at a time when staff turnover is high in hospitality venues across the country. Merchants can also customise employee permissions to protect the business’ financial information.

• Over 600 point-of-sale integrations: POS integrations are crucial for hospitality business owners. Having your POS and EFTPOS terminal connected means that when you click on items and push the pay button, it pushes directly to the EFTPOS machine so that you don’t waste time typing in numbers, and there is less room for error.

• Local support: Zeller’s Australian-based support team are available by phone, email and SMS, 7 days a week.

Over 1 in 3 businesses signing up with Zeller are following an introduction from another business owner who currently uses Zeller Terminals. This goes to show the importance of wordof-mouth and having a product that speaks for itself. Business owners’ willingness to refer best-in-class products to their network is the most valued endorsement for Zeller.

Nicholas Schultze, managing partner at the Ascot Vale Hotel said “Using Zeller in both of our pubs has streamlined processes for patrons as well as staff. We’ve been really impressed with the ongoing support from the local team, who have assisted us in our transition to Zeller.”

Zeller Terminals are durable for a pub setting, and easy to use 14 | Australian Hotelier POS AND OP TECH

SevenRooms’ Pre-Shift feature

SevenRooms has added a new product feature, Pre-Shift, to its guest experience and retention platform which provides operators with key shift details they can leverage to inform and lead preservice meetings. Pre-Shift is built to power and simplify preservice meetings for restaurant operators and their staff.

The new feature provides operators a real-time, unified view of everything they need ahead of each shift and saves employees’ time with an out-of-the-box informational report. Pre-Shift allows teams to harness rich customer data with up-to-theminute information on every guest joining during that shift.

By incorporating this tool, staff can utilise SevenRooms’ rich guest data and Auto-Tags to educate themselves on incoming guests. The tool highlights valuable insights such as allergy information, dining preferences, previous experiences with the restaurant, and positive/negative reviews. It also provides a quick snapshot of that day’s notes on menu specials, private events, or special requests, making it easy for staff to reference quickly throughout the service. Whether it’s the host, server or back-ofhouse employees, Pre-Shift enables all staff with the information they need to deliver exceptional service, build guest loyalty, and keep up with diner expectations as they continue to evolve.

“Pre-Shift is a great resource for our service leaders, waiters,

SevenRooms’ Pre-Shift feature gives allows for plenty of detail about customer preferences and behaviour

bartenders, and our chefs. It is having a notable effect in training our kitchen teams and their restaurant awareness,” said Nicholas Ingall, Operations Manager at The Apollo and Cho Cho San.

“The kitchen is reviewing cover flows, service notes, and goals for the front-of-house team in one view. They are becoming familiar with regular diners, their seating preferences, and the demands of the restaurant throughout service. Pre-Shift enables our front and back of house teams to maintain a big picture view of the restaurant while managing in detail.”

me&u partners with digital marketing platform Eagle Eye

At-table ordering platform me&u has announced an exclusive partnership with personalised loyalty, promotions and subscription software platform, Eagle Eye. The collaboration, combined with me&u’s newly released CRM, will provide venues with the control and flexibility to craft real-time performance marketing campaigns and enable true one-to-one personalisation when targeting end customers.

Delivering a range of tried and tested offerings across multiple sectors, Eagle Eye enables the secure issuance and

redemption of digital offers and rewards at scale, across multiple channels. The omnichannel platform underpins the loyalty programs of the world’s leading retailers, including Woolworths Group in Australia, and biggest hospitality operators globally, including Greene King, Mitchells & Butlers and Pret A Manger.

Using Eagle Eye’s technology, me&u will create a suite of products for marketers in the hospitality industry, giving venues a deeper insight into their customers and opening up new revenue streams.

me&u’s 2023 focus will be in continuing to provide product development that enhances the traditional dining experience.

June 2023 | 15 POS AND OP TECH

Banktech and TAB partnership

Banktech has announced a partnership with Tabcorp that allows TAB customers to deposit and withdraw cash from their account via the ATM Plus network. Banktech owns and manages more than 2,600 CashConnect ATMs across Australia, primarily in pubs and clubs. These are currently being upgraded to their new “ATM Plus” service which will include both a note acceptor and barcode scanner.

TAB customers will be able to deposit or withdraw from their account by scanning their digital TAB account card, or physical TAB card at an ATM Plus terminal. ATM Plus will help turn the TAB into a self-service operation and promises a simple service to punters, lower operating costs to the venue.

“We’re excited to add another avenue for our customers to deposit and withdraw into their TAB accounts. Banktech’s CashConnect ATM Plus network services will be exclusive to TAB account customers in TAB venues. It is just another service that Tabcorp is providing to its customers while simultaneously supporting our TAB venues,” stated Bernadette McLoughlin, general manager oncourse & wagering operations – TAB.

“This is especially exciting for our next-generation, non-cash betting Digital Retail venues. Banktech’s CashConnect ATMs will allow them to offer a cash deposit and withdrawal option, in a nontraditional TAB that is powered by Venue Mode on the TAB App.”

The response from TAB venues seeking to offer the new ATM Plus service has been remarkable. According to Henry Kiwarkis, General Manager Sales, Banktech has already signed up more than 1,600 ATMs to deliver the new TAB functionality.

Banktech built ATM Plus to be “the bridge between cash and digital payments” says Kiwarkis and delivering TAB services is another important step in developing fully integrated digital solutions for venues. Banktech is currently upgrading the CashConnect ATM fleet to deliver the TAB services.

Deputy and EdApp’s industry-first courses

Shift work management platform, Deputy, has partnered with mobile learning management system EdApp, to create two new courses specifically designed for shift workers and managers in the hospitality industry to place a greater focus on wellbeing.

These mobile-first, micro-learning courses for frontline workers are divided into two courses: the Shift Workers Track and the Manager Track. With each micro-lesson taking between three to seven minutes to complete, teams are motivated to delve in at their own convenience, with little disruption to their workflow.

“To make training effective, businesses must meet their employees where they are. This means moving away from lengthy hours-long, dull training sessions and towards bite-sized and mobile-first

learning. We’ve seen businesses improve training completion rates nearly threefold and, as a result, achieve higher sales, better productivity and a general increase in employee engagement,” said Darren Winterford, founder and CEO of EdApp.

The Shift Workers Track aims to equip employees with the tools they need to evaluate a healthy workplace, share their opinions and feedback and set up a path to success in their career journey. The Manager Track provides managers with tips for how to develop a healthy and inclusive workplace, build trust and facilitate feedback with staff, and foster career development in order to support employee retention.

Each course is free and completely editable, allowing business leaders to update any of the text, add their own slides or re-brand the entire course as needed.

16 | Australian Hotelier POS AND OP TECH
Henry Kiwarkis, Banktech, and Bernadette McLoughlin, Tabcorp with an ATM Plus terminal

Ramping up accessibility

With one in six Australians living with a disability, accessibility is an important consideration for pubs and hotels. By Caoimhe

THE AUSTRALIAN Hotels Association (AHA) has introduced a new category in its awards, the All Abilities Award, which was developed alongside accessibility consulting firm Get Skilled Access. The category is being introduced nationally across all AHA Awards programs, with Victoria being the first state to hold the award. The Victorian finalists were the Mail Exchange Hotel and the Corner Hotel Richmond, and the Drouin Family Hotel which ultimately took home the inaugural All Abilities Award.

“Our role as industry leaders is to welcome and include all walks of life,” explained Kimberly Malcolm, AHA Victoria general manager of member experience and compliance.

“The finalists in this category are leading the way in the hotel industry.”

According to data compiled by Get Skilled Access, more than 4 million Australians live with

a disability. Accessibility is a diverse term, and the award makes considerations beyond legal wheelchair access requirements. Among people with disabilities (PwD), only 4.4 per cent are wheelchair users, and 80 per cent have an invisible disability. Deaf Australia estimates that 20,000 Australians primarily communicate using Auslan, and Vision Australia estimates that 357,000 have vision loss.

Malcolm believes that accessibility is key to the hospitality industry.

“The pub, by the very nature of its origins, ‘the public house,’ welcomes all abilities to enjoy the amazing hospitality Victorian pubs offer,” she said.

By debuting the award, AHA aims to increase awareness and accessibility across the AHA network, as well as alerting PwD about AHA venues that will accommodate their needs.

[Accessibility] enables all people independence and motivates and encourages people to leave their homes and allows everyone to participate in a social life.
Simon Appleby, Drouin Family Hotel
18 | Australian Hotelier ALL ABILITIES
Corner Hotel Richmond started its accessibility journey seven years ago

“We think the inclusion of this award will help members develop a better understanding of what disability access and inclusion means for their pubs and hotels,” Malcom added.

Drouin Family Hotel

For the Drouin Family Hotel, providing access to customers with disabilities was a natural extension of the venue’s family atmosphere.

“We pride ourselves on being a venue that has something for everyone,” said Drouin Family Hotel manager Simon Appleby.

“We hope that providing an accessible environment will provide a satisfying experience for all customers with and without disabilities.”

As well as being a fully wheelchair accessible venue, the Drouin Family Hotel provides table service to blind or visionimpaired customers and gives preferential seating to Deaf customers who need certain environments to communicate effectively. The kitchens also regularly vitamises customers’ food, a process

by which all food is given a smooth and even consistency. This allows customers to enjoy traditional pub meals that they would not otherwise be able to eat.

“We have a young lady that dines with us weekly and she comes to us purely because the chefs are happy to cook and prepare her order in a way that enables her to enjoy her meal,” Appleby described.

Though it is not part of the judging criteria, the team at the Drouin Family Hotel also ensure that the venue is inclusive for its staff.

“One of the most important things our venue does is offer opportunities for some of our staff who find it difficult to find employment elsewhere. […] This is across our venue, in our bistro, bar and kitchen,” commented Appleby.

Some future goals for the Drouin Family Hotel include providing different methods for vision-impaired customers to read the menu, and more accessible school holiday activations.

“Accessibility is not only important to the hospitality industry, it’s a social

responsibility,” Appleby argued.

“It enables all people independence and motivates and encourages people to leave their homes and allows everyone to participate in a social life.”

Appleby and the rest of the Drouin Family Hotel team are overjoyed about the win.

“We applaud the AHA for including this category in this year’s awards, and for shining a light on the need for the hospitality industry to provide facilities and a willingness to enhance or establish a more inclusive venue. We are honoured to be recognised for this award and we will continue to improve our business through the needs and advice from the All Abilities industry groups, customers and our staff,” Appleby commented.

Mail Exchange Hotel

Staff are also a key focus for the Mail Exchange Hotel. Members of their kitchen staff have learned AUSLAN to communicate with one of the chefs, who is Deaf. They also employ staff with vision

June 2023 | 19 ALL ABILITIES
Drouin Family Hotel often vitamises meals for patrons as needed

loss and learning difficulties, working with staff members to determine how they can contribute to the hotel.

“Everyone brings something different to the table. You just have different chairs for different people, and we’re all one big family when we sit down,” explained manager Nici Nicholson.

At first, Nicholson did not think that the Mail Exchange Hotel would be eligible for the award, as their focus is much more on creating an equitable environment for staff with disabilities. However, she soon realised that the venue approaches guests with the same attitude that it has towards its staff.

“Someone said to me, ‘You really should go for that award,’ and I go, ‘But it has nothing to do with staff, it’s all about customers.’ But then when they said that, I was thinking that we treat our customers like that anyway. Why wouldn’t you offer someone what they need?” Nicholson said.

For example, though the Mail Exchange Hotel doesn’t have audio menus, the staff read menus aloud to guests who are unable to for reasons such as vision loss.

Additionally, Nicolson emphasised that creating an accessible venue requires cooperation from all levels of organisation.

“If I didn’t get the support from everyone who’s above me, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Michael Robertson is our operations manager and Mark Robertson is our director, who is proud that we do all this,” she explained.

Corner Hotel Richmond

During renovations about seven years ago, the Corner Hotel Richmond had the opportunity to reflect on the venue’s accessibility. This was the beginning of making physical improvements such as ramps and lift access, but for venue manager Lara Whalley, accessibility doesn’t stop there.

“A lot of people focus on pubs or old buildings with physical barriers, but there’s a lot more stuff that you can do that starts with information and communication,” she explained.

The Corner Hotel’s website provides detailed information about the venue, so

customers can plan their visit ahead of time. Whalley also placed an emphasis on training staff about catering for PwD, including contracted security staff.

“Quite often, people’s first experience or interaction with someone in the venue literally starts at the front door,” Whalley said.

On 3 June, the Corner Hotel partnered with accessibility consulting firm Tibi Access to host Groove Tunes, an accessible live music event. The hotel’s focus on live music in general has opened up the opportunity for a number of grants to improve its accessibility.

Regular consultations with accessibility firms are an invaluable resource for the Corner Hotel’s ongoing accessibility journey.

“It’s been really great to have that experience and see what changes we can make,” Whalley enthused.

All finalists emphasised that accessibility is a journey and are seeking regular improvement. Particularly, they mentioned looking forward to the feedback given in the AHA’s judging notes.

20 | Australian Hotelier ALL ABILITIES
Groove Tunes at Corner Hotel is an accessible live music event

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Striking a chord

A live music renaissance is taking hold in pubs across Australia and finally seems to have some government support. Seamus May hears how music and performance can amplify a venue’s entertainment offering.

WHEN ODD Culture reopened the Duke of Enmore in October 2020, the picture for live music was uncertain, to say the least. Lockout laws had only been relaxed in January of the same year, while the significant COVID-19 lockdowns of 2021 were still yet to come.

Fast-forward to June 2023, and things are looking rather more upbeat. The Duke is closing in on 700 nights of live music hosted since Odd Culture’s takeover. The venue also hosted a recent event in support of live music, which counted Jenny Leong, State MP for Newtown, and Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, amongst its attendees.

Moreover, newly elected NSW Premier, Chris Minns, has pledged $103m in funding for the state’s music industry, while indicating his willingness to reform curfew and noise complaint legislation. Nevertheless, there remains work to be done in the hospitality space, as Odd Culture CEO, James Thorpe explains.

“The state of play is that there are just 133 registered live music venues in NSW. Our group is incredibly invested in live music and are committed to changing this startling statistic.”

For Thorpe, live music also represents genuinely good business sense.

“Where we invest in live music, we see a really strong return in trade. People want to go out and experience live music and we are really passionate about providing it for free in our venues.”


Just a few minutes’ walk from the Duke is The Botany View Hotel, a pub that has redoubled its

22 | Australian Hotelier LIVE MUSIC
Jazz sessions give The Botany View Hotel a point of difference

focus on live music in recent years, and reaped significant reward as a result.

Nick Hutt, who books entertainment and acts for the Botany View, explained why and how the pub adapted to better suit musicians and performance.

“It’s always been a live music venue, but it had always shared a stage with pub culture and local footy culture,” Hutt says, describing the previous set-up at the Botany View.

“Then when our new owners came in, the Smalls, we kind of got rid of the pub culture as such and focused more on the live music.

“We always had this battle of: footy’s on at eight o’clock, the bands have to wait, the whole room’s full of plasma screens, and so the staff would go up on a ladder and put curtains all around the venue and make a stage. And we had some pretty shoddy PA, and that was kind of the live music offering we had then.

“To make it legitimately a live music venue, we invested a bit of capital, completely overturning the whole main bar to make it a massive stage with stateof-the-art front-of-house, obviously making it quite attractive to local up and coming artists,” Hutt continues.

“We got rid of the live sports element and the old boy kind of attitude and gave it a big facelift for the music.”

Now, the pub has a comprehensive endof-week music offering, with a resident jazz band on Thursday nights, local bands on a Friday night, while Saturday is for local and interstate performers (with a DJ on the pub’s second floor from 4pm to midnight), and Sunday for New Orleans jazz.

The focus on jazz is a key point of difference for the Botany View, and the general manager believes this has allowed the venue to access a particular subculture in the local area.

“There’s always been a big jazz following, and there hasn’t been much support for the jazz community in the Newtown area, it’s more been Surry Hills and Ultimo, so we saw it as an opportunity

to start a scene - or not start, but help it grow and help it develop,” Hutt says.

“We have so many Conservatory of Music students come in, this is their home to hang out and watch their teachers and also their jazz idols go on stage and play in front of them.”


Given the significant upside, there are doubtless many operators and licensees around Australia that are considering adding live music to their venues. But as Sinead O’Hara, the programming and communications manager at Perth’s Rosemount Hotel explains, the process can be long and demanding, and pub managers should be clear-sighted about what lies ahead.

“The initial outlay is expensive, and running a live music venue involves a huge commitment of time, money and resources,” O’Hara says.

Her venue has made live music a core part of the business, with acts

June 2023 | 23 LIVE MUSIC
Odd Culture Group, musicians and Lord Mayor Clover Moore lobbying for a return of a live music culture to Sydney

Navigating noise complaints

Noise complaints have long been a thorn in the side of operators looking to add live music to their offering. Publicans who have managed to put on live and loud entertainment outline how they navigated this tricky community interaction.

“We have a good relationship with the locals here, and since the Smalls took it over, they made it a priority to make sure of that by introducing themselves, door-knocking and making sure everyone’s on the same page,” Kovarik says.

“Since I’ve been general manager, I haven’t had a single noise complaint.”

Management at the Rosemount Hotel took a similar tactic.

“It’s always a challenge, but we have strict curfews we adhere to,” O’Hara comments.

“We love our local North Perth community and do our best to work with them to make sure everyone is happy. Long-term success of the venue is paramount, so it’s really important everyone gets along.”

For the Gov, a major collaborative campaign helped to nip potentially draconian legislation in the bud, as Tonkin outlines.

“In 2013, when new liquor licensing laws that threatened the viability of many live music venues in Adelaide were introduced, 5000 musicians, venue owners, and supporters of the live music scene rallied to protest the new laws and call for changes to support live music in the city by marching on parliament.

“The campaign eventually led to amendments to the licensing laws which give first occupancy rights to SA venues.”

playing between five and seven nights a week across the pub’s main room and Four5Nine, a dedicated space for emerging artists.

Over the years, the Rosemount has hosted the likes of Spacey Jane (who dominated the top 10 of Triple J’s 2023 Hottest 100), Hiatus Kayote and Tones & I. This musical pedigree provides a powerful point of difference for the Rosemount – supported by a strong F&B and loyalty program.

“The culture Rosemount has built around live music is a key component for attracting new customers, but the venue also stands strong as a competitor in the pub industry – serving up competitive weekly food and drink specials all day and night,” O’Hara says.

“We have a very strong, loyal customer base and a ‘VIP’ (Very Important Punter) membership program which helps retain customers by rewarding them for their time spent at the venue through a points system, and exclusive access to VIP events, discounted gig tickets, birthday vouchers and heaps more.”

Nevertheless, it took time for the pub to develop its reputation as a home of live music.

“Rosemount has been doing this for over 10 years and has always been committed to supporting original musicians and touring acts,” the

programming manager comments.

It’s a remarkably similar story for Adelaide-based pub, the Gov, a 13-time winner of AHA SA’s Best Entertainment/ Live Music Venue Award.

“The first ten years at The Gov was an enormous challenge,” co-owner Melissa Tonkin says.

“Becoming a successful music venue doesn’t happen because you put a PA in the corner of your bar and book a band, it happens because you put your life into creating a vibrant community of musicians and music lovers, and that takes time to build.”

Now the Gov is one of South Australia’s foremost music venues, making live music a cornerstone of its operations. Tonkin explains how the pub’s design put the centre stage, centre stage.

“The Gov’s venue is a purpose-built, 850+ capacity space designed for the ultimate live music performance. The room is wide, with a mezzanine and small bar one side, and a wall-length bar on the other with the stage front and centre.

“The back wall is glass doors leading to our beer garden and deck, so the audience can spill out under the stars and still see the action on stage.

“Live music is the beating heart of our venue. We don’t have poker machines or a bottle shop and if you look really hard you may find a single, small television

24 | Australian Hotelier LIVE MUSIC
Live music at The Gov. Image Credit: AK Photography**

tucked away, but the whole energy of The Gov is about music,” Tonkins summarises. And the venue’s offering allows the pub to appeal to a wide audience.

“We really see it all. It’s a wild experience to see a young, indie crowd come through for a fresh favourite band, the next night a classic rock band from the 60s bringing the older demographic, followed by a night of thrash metal, or folk, or hip hop,” Tonkin outlines.

Despite the success of their live music programs, the Gov and the Rosemount both face operational challenges in 2023 –impacting the pubs, and the artists booked.

O’Hara described some of the difficulties confronting music venues: “Inflation combined with a highly saturated market and the return of international touring artists.”

“People are being more careful and selective with their money, which is fair enough, but it certainly causes a bit more stress to the artist when they’re not seeing ticket sales growing until a couple of days before the show.”

Tonkin concurs, saying: “Challenges have arisen from external sources over the years, power outages, of course the pandemic, flight delays, the singer losing their voice on show day… Having a backup plan for every eventuality is certainly a must.”


Venues across the board were unequivocal in their belief that pubs have a vital role to play in the nurturing of musical careers in Australia.

“We often see bands form and develop at community events, get gigs on our Gibson stage, gain traction and grow their audience,” Tonkin says.

“Once this happens, we’ve seen them get chosen for support spots in the venue as more prominent national and international bands tour, and then end up commanding headline performances themselves.

“It’s one of the many highlights of being

in this business for 30 years, that we’ve seen so many amazing bands grow to the point that they outgrow us.”

Taking such a supportive role in the early career of musicians can pay dividends for venues down the line, which has been the case at The Gov.

“Many of them [successful musicians] come back, preferring to book two nights in a row in their favourite venue than go too big,” Tonkin adds.

While Australia was renowned as a birthing ground of pub rockers, O’Hara states that the scene has since become more mature and varied.

“There is such a wide variety of music acts these days, which is amazing. The venues who support these artists are the building blocks for emerging bands to start growing their audience. There is nothing like live shows and it’s an experience that can’t be replaced,” she continues.

And Hutt agrees with his fellow operators.

“The pub scene is where every Australian band ever has cut their teeth, that’s where we want to provide that environment.”

Ultimately, pubs will do what brings guests through the door and puts money behind the bar. But, as Thorpe

suggested, live music venues who get it right enjoy significant upticks in trade.

“Our restaurant caters to the pre-gig dining crowd and can also support invenue dining for cabaret-style events. Our bars are often full to overflowing before and after shows,” Tonkin comments.

In the experience of The Botany View’s general manager, Adam Kovarik, securing a high-quality act tends to be reflected in the bar’s takings.

“It’s always dependent on the calibre of the artist. We’ve had a few times where we put up a band here and the place has been absolutely packed, and you can see that in the revenue for the night is triple what it usually,” he says.

Finally, Hutt had some advice for any publican looking to secure the kind of loyalty from artists that Tonkin describes.

“We also instil in the staff’s minds, in the management’s minds, that the artist is 100 per cent VIP. They get full treatment, they get drinks, they get dinner,” Hutt says.

“And have a good sound system. That’s literally the only advice I can give. If you’re thinking about doing live music, and then not offering substantial sound, you’re not going to make any friends in that industry.”

June 2023 | 25 LIVE MUSIC
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Staying Frosty

AUSTRALIANS LOVE an ice-cold beer on a hot summer’s day. In fact, the first beer refrigeration system was designed in Australia, all the way back in 1856 by James Harrison. However, beer drops in popularity in winter, with a Roy Morgan study finding that while 43 per cent of Australians drink beer during summer, this falls to 37.5 per cent from July to September.

“Winter’s usually the time when Aussie’s retreat back indoors and drink less beer than they do in summer,” said Better Beer’s founder Nick Cogger.

However, the colder months are the prime time to promote darker, maltforward beers such as stouts, porters, and dark ales. According to Pete Martin, head brewer of Tooborac Beer, these dark styles actually benefit from being served slighty warmer, as it brings the flavours out. Additionally, as dark beers often have a higher alcohol content, they add extra warmth in the cooler weather.

Unsurprisingly, customers also gravitate towards different food in the colder months, generally preferring a hot, hearty meal. Many popular winter styles pair well

with this kind of food, and several winter menus utilise beers such as stouts and porters as ingredients.

Making sure bar staff have a good knowledge of the seasonal offerings allows them to suggest winter styles based on a customer’s preferred summer drink.

“Bringing a little bit of attention to new and different beers can be a good thing. Maybe there’s a poster or a sign or something around. You could encourage staff members behind the bar to offer people a little taste, or just tell [the customers] about a new beer they’ve got on that might encourage them to try one rather than going for their old regular,” advised Simone Clements, head brewer at Gage Roads.

Even if a customer doesn’t enjoy the stouts and porters traditionally associated with winter, there are several ales that come in darker styles. English style beers, brown ales, or amber ales are all more accessible options for a traditional pale ale or even lager drinker. Tooborac brew an American maple syrup amber ale, which is a favourite in the autumn and winter period.

The warm kick of ginger makes alcoholic ginger beer a great choice for the cooler months

“It doesn’t have that really roasty character to it. It’s got a really rich malty profile to it, but it’s a lot more approachable. Having the addition of maple syrup in it has a little bit more appeal to a lot of people as well, so it’s definitely a good one to start on,” described Martin.

Amber ales have the added benefit of a lower ABV than many dark beers.

“Maybe someone is happy to have a six per cent stout. But obviously, not everyone’s going to be into that. They might prefer something with much lower alcohol levels, wanting to keep it sensible. Something around the four per cent might be a bit more appealing to others,” Clements explained.

Gage Roads has seen success with its black IPA, which has the same hoppy profile of an American IPA with a supporting layer of dark malt, but without the stronger roasted notes of a stout.

Additionally, alcoholic ginger beer has been rising in popularity, which is another warming option for the colder months.

“There’s something warming about

As the temperatures drop, the popularity of winter beers is on the rise. By Caoimhe Hanrahan-Lawrence.
28 | Australian Hotelier BEERS FOR WINTER

enjoying a fresh kick of ginger in your beer, plus our alcoholic ginger beer is great because it’s got much less sugar in it than the majority of offerings in the market,” said Cogger.

Offering tasting paddles is a great way to encourage customers to try a range of styles while still enjoying their year-round favourite.

“On the paddle we’ve usually got, say maybe one core range beer and then the rest of them are the seasonals. People get the chance to try them all that way, which is good,” Clements said.

Limited release beers can also be attractive to customers, as it creates urgency to try the newest beer on tap or in the fridge. While one-off beers increase this sense of urgency, having a few fan-favourites that return year after year means that customers will make sure to return next winter. For the Tooborac Hotel and Brewery, this is the case for the chocolate chilli sanchez.

“I think we brewed that for the first time nearly eight years ago, and we’ve brewed it pretty much every winter since. We’ve given it a couple of years off here and there, and everyone’s always asking for it if we don’t do it,” Martin said.

While beer is popular all year around, promoting winter beers may require a shift in messaging, as the flavours and occasions are different.

“Beer is always great on a hot day. There’s no question there. It’s also really great on a cold day, having a nice stout or something. You still get the same enjoyment, just different. It’s more of a savoury feeling,” concluded Martin.

Gage Roads Brew Co BEERS FOR WINTER June 2023 | 29
Red beers are a good midway point between pale beers and dark beers

Artfully crafted

Dedicated to doing the unexpected, Manky Sally’s is a unique brewpub in the heart of Hobart.

LOCATED IN Hobart’s historic Salamanca square, Manky Sally’s is the newest brewpub for Tasmanian brewery Moo Brew. Design has always been central to Moo Brew. Not only is founder David Walsh the owner of Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), but the idea for Moo Brew first came about when Walsh discovered the beer’s iconic glass bottle and decided he needed a beer to fill it.

Lauren Sheppard, managing director of Moo Brew, explained that she wanted Manky Sally’s to continue the Moo Brew legacy of doing the unexpected.

“That was the driving force: how could we continue to bring our quality products to the market, but also remind people just how interesting we are?” Sheppard commented.

The new venue also represented a move from a purely wholesale operation to a hospitality venue.

“One of the things that we were missing was that direct connection with our consumer. It’s a hard ask to have someone be passionate and create something, but then not give them the opportunity to have that feedback when someone’s enjoying the product,” Sheppard explained.

Breaking ground

The Salamanca location was somewhat of an accident. Originally, Sheppard was looking for a warehouse suitable for a standard-sized craft brewery. However, when a warehouse was taken off the market as Sheppard was on the way to inspect it, her realtor suggested they look at the venue on

30 | Australian Hotelier DESIGN & BUILD
Moo Brew’s head brewer Jack Viney (left) and MD Lauren Sheppard

the Salamanca strip, which is a major historic centre in Hobart.

“I was pretty confused because those locations are pretty tightly held,” Sheppard recalled.

After viewing the property, Sheppard discussed the possibility with head brewer Jack Viney.

“We both decided that it was too good an opportunity to not at least explore,” she added.

The property did not originally have the infrastructure that was needed to run Manky Sally’s, and this all had to be put in place before venue design could really begin. As Salamanca place is a heritage location, there were unique challenges to this part of the project, and many changes had to be approved by Sullivan’s Cove Planning.

“They were very supportive of what we were planning to do, but there are extra layers of complication with buildings that are heritage listed. There’s certain things that we can’t do, there’s certainly very strict aesthetic changes to the facade that we can’t do,” Sheppard described.

Much of the design process spoke to Moo Brew’s connection with Mona. To bring Manky Sally’s to life, Sheppard worked with local architectural firm Design East and designer Georgina Freeman.

“We had a team of people that

became our support network,” Sheppard commented.

Freeman has a strong connection with Mona, designing spaces such as the 24 Carrot Gardens, as well as some of Walsh’s private dwellings. She is no stranger to designing for hospitality either, having designed several Hobart restaurants.

“It’s very Tasmanian to say, but in a build as challenging as this was, we’ve

big Moo Brew fan, so I knew I was asking the right person,” Sheppard explained.

Best kept secret

Despite the small space, Manky Sally’s forms three distinct drinking spaces. The façade doesn’t give away what is inside the venue, with large curtains, very little signage, and only one of four doors kept open. Some of the minimal frontage is due to heritage restrictions, but it also creates an inviting space indoors.

“Rather than throwing open all the doors onto the street front, we want the whole space to feel quite discoverable,” Sheppard described.

Upon entering, guests walk through a sheer curtained corridor.

all become a bit like family. They’re all on speed dial and were all at the launch to share a beer with us, which was really lovely,” said Sheppard.

Mona’s head designer, Adrian Spinks, was also involved in the project.

“I asked him to be involved in creating something really unique in in the back end of our venue that would speak a little bit to that Mona connection. Obviously because of his many years of Mona, but he’s also a

“What we’re trying to do is draw people further into the space than just seeing a bar at the front and not finding all of the other beauty that lies behind it,” continued Sheppard.

Featuring the majority of the venue’s seating, the front bar mirrors Moo Brew’s cheeky energy through elements like an honour board displaying the Moo Brew Icons range. However, it still maintains a level of sophistication, with a tiled barfront and mid-century style wood panelling on the walls. The tabletops were made with tiger-striped onyx stone, and the barstools

I want everyone that walks into Sally’s to feel like a VIP and I think we’ve given them a space that they can do that.
Lauren Sheppard, Moo Brew.
June 2023 | 31 DESIGN & BUILD
The mirrored walkway is a conversation starter

are upholstered with striking teal velvet, creating a vibrant and quirky space.

Connecting the front bar with the back lounge is a mirrored walkway. On one side of the walkway is the kitchen and the coolroom, which is also mirrored. The other side holds the onsite nano-brewery. Despite the small size of the venue, the mirrors open up the space, making it feel much more expansive.

The tanks in the nano-brewery produce 350 litres of product, as opposed to the 12,000 litre tanks at the Bridgewater main brewing facility. These will be used for experimental brews and Manky Sally’s-exclusive limited releases.

“We’re really thankful that a large part of our consumer base had always been Tasmanian. Having something really special that you have to be at the venue to try is going to be our way of saying thank you to those guys and giving them something a little bit special that they can’t just jump online and order,” reflected Sheppard.

Reclaimed and recycled

When Sheppard first inspected the venue with the realtor, she initially thought it was an abandoned furniture store. This inspired the theme of the lounge, which is richly furnished with vintage furniture.

“We’ve really embraced that reuse, repurpose, do things you wouldn’t expect that really started from when the venue was selected,” Sheppard said.

The seating includes old church pews that were restained and upholstered with leather. The pews also have concealed storage, vital for such a small venue.

“There’s lots of secondhand furniture from local Tasmanian antique dealers. There’s even been some Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree purchases, I’m not ashamed to say. I’m so thrilled with how it came together. No one would know that we’ve been traipsing all over Hobart looking for mid-century chairs or mid-century coffee tables,” Sheppard described.

Of the reclaimed furnishing, the amble bottle base glass windows were taken from a set of doors, and the Axminster carpet was sourced from a cottage on Maria Island that was ripping it up.

“That’s in a small way our nod to Mona’s focus on zero waste and sustainability. We wanted to prove that even in a fit out, you could make some smart choices,” said Sheppared.

To prevent the space becoming dated, none of the furniture is permanently affixed, and any permanent fixtures utilise neutral colours. Some elements are intended to change with age, such as the black metal wall panels, which Sheppard hopes will develop a unique patina.

The highlight of the space is the beer bottle room, designed by Spinks. The installation is made up of 2,896 of Moo Brew’s iconic bottles, arranged to create an alcove within the lounge space.

“That’s a lot of bottles of beer on the wall. Many songs were sung while we were gluing and hoisting them up,” Sheppard joked.

Each bottle is individually lit with an LED, creating an effect that Sheppard likens to an old Hollywood vanity mirror.

“I want everyone that walks into Sally’s to feel like a VIP and I think we’ve given them a space that they can do that,” she explained.

For Sheppard, the bottle room is particularly sentimental, as it ties together all the elements that Manky Sally’s tries to unite.

“It tells the Mona story, it’s Mona’s head designer, and David okayed it, but it tells Moo Brew’s origin story in a way that again, no one would expect. The brewery started because of that bottle,” she concluded.

The nanobrewery produces 300L of experimental brews
32 | Australian Hotelier DESIGN & BUILD
This feature wall consists of 2896 Moo Brew bottles

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Seizing every opportunity

PAUL FITZSIMMONS, previously regional manager for Queensland North at Australian Venue Co, has joined the Melbourne-based CLG, describing the opportunity as “just too good not to have a look at.”

CLG currently operates eight venues, largely concentrated in Victoria, and with Fitzsimmons a Melbourne native, it was a move that made sense.

“I was looking to move back to Melbourne… I moved up to Queensland just under three years ago, before the second COVID [wave] hit Melbourne. Australian Venue Co needed some operations help up there, so I moved up with the family. The timing is just basically right to come back really, we’ve been missing Melbourne a bit,” Fitzsimmons said.

In particular, Fitzsimmons is excited to move into a role with significant responsibility.

“It’s a role where you get to step up more and be in charge and make the calls. At the same time, I saw some opportunities for some growth in this company, that they’ve cut back and are now looking to grow again and have opportunities to grow.”

The incoming COO is also impressed by the structure at CLG.

“There’s some really good quality staff here, from the head office being with Morris Group [the parent company of CLG], and some definite changes we can see in the future and projects that are coming up, so it’ll be exciting.”

Nevertheless, Fitzsimmons greatly enjoyed his time in Queensland, taking in everything the state had to offer and developing his skills.

“I was working on the region of Queensland from Brisbane up to the top of Cairns, Palm Cove. I really enjoyed it, made some really good connections and great friends as well.

“I had a lot of operations managers under me there, being something like 43 venues that I had in the end. I got to see a bit more of Queensland that I would never have normally seen as well,” he adds.

At CLG, a key focus for the new hire over the next three to six months will be driving sales within venues.

“I’m only just getting my head around it all, but I’ve been up to a few of the venues last week and I see there’s opportunities there that just haven’t been taken up – I think some of the sales opportunities are more beverage sales-driven, and then also just tightening up some of the food sales,” Fitzsimmons concluded.

CLG have announced their new Chief Operating Officer, with industry veteran Paul Fitzsimmons returning to Melbourne for the role.
34 | Australian Hotelier TALES FROM THE TOP
Above: Half Moon, Brighton
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