Hotel Brighton has this week opened its doors as the new go-to local pub on Bay Street this Friday. An extensive makeover has seen the joint rebuilt from the ground up, preserving the gorgeous façade. The cadre of new owners includes X Factor judge and singer Natalie Bassingthwaite and St Kilda captain Nick Reiwoldt, as well as Nathan Brown of the same group behind Flinders Street's Waterside Hotel in the city.
All of the owners intend on being faces down at the Hotel Brighton, whether they're popping in for a meal with their young families, sinking a few beers on the glorious new roof deck, or even pulling pints behind the bar.
"We wanted to retain a real, old-school pub feel," Brown says. "There's a lot of dark timber downstairs, with open fires too. Upstairs we went the extra mile, with a lot of real nice finishes on the rooftop deck."
The idea's simple, Hotel Brighton's downstairs will have a more homey feel, perfect for families after a good steak, parma or classic fish and chips, while it's expected a younger crowd will make a beeline for the deck, which looks out over the rooftops of Brighton and includes a massive built-in BBQ. The interiors have been designed by Sophie McLachlan.
"We want it to be a great local pub for all ages," Brown says. "We're a community pub and we want our locals to come down, know the barman and the owners and enjoy a beer. A lot of us will be dining down there regularly or even working behind the bar. It'll be like Cheers, where everybody knows your name."
With the Waterside Hotel opening in 2004, Brown says they've had ten years to get the formula right, though there will be a considerably bigger wine range on offer to suit the Brighton crowd as well as the standard CUB beers and a few boutique offerings. He says all the Hotel Brighton owners have stuck their heads together and brought their own ambition to the project.
"We're working with a big group of people, and not everybody sees eye-to-eye all the time, but that's part of the ride," he says. We've put everything into it and we want it to be a real community pub."
Image Credit: Tash Sorensen, The Urban List