31/10/2014 - 16:04

Iconic venues redesign, rebrand

31/10/2014 - 16:04


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Hospitality proprietors are funnelling money into makeovers for some of Perth’s best-known establishments.

Iconic venues redesign, rebrand
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: Margie Livingston says SubiDoo offers an affordable alternative to venues already in Subiaco. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Hospitality proprietors are funnelling money into makeovers for some of Perth’s best-known establishments.

As the rapid growth of small bars adds a new dimension to Perth’s hospitality scene, some of the city’s more established venues are stepping up to compete with the new offerings.

Just last week the Court Wine Bar, which has a long history as a watering hole for politicians, police, journalists, and lawyers, was reopened with a fresh lick of paint and new name – The Dominion League.

Owners Hamish Fleming and Siobhan Blumann bought the bar in October last year to add to their portfolio around town, which includes Mrs Brown Bar in Fremantle, The Mechanics Institute, and the four Flipside Burgers outlets around Perth.

The refreshed bar takes its name from the league formed in 1926, which advocated for the separation of Western Australia from the Commonwealth and the creation of the state as a dominion within the British Empire.

The reopening of what was the Oriel Café and Brasserie in Subiaco is another example of an iconic venue that has been refreshed.

Renowned brewer Phil Sexton was the early name behind the venue, which was established in 1988 and became known as one of the best training venues for chefs in Perth, as well as a popular social spot, given its unusual late night licence.

Mr Sexton was also involved in setting up Matilda Bay Brewing Company, Dome Coffees Australia and Little Creatures.

After Mr Sexton sold the Oriel, successive owners struggled to retain its reputation, with one going into administration in 2007.

Now a group of six shareholders has joined forces to give it a new lease on life, with the venue renamed as SubiDoo and offering a tapas-style menu in a modern setting.

Margie Livingston, a major shareholder, told Business News the opportunity to open a new venture in such an iconic site couldn’t be passed up.

“People of all ages would come here … and it changed hands and was just never the same,” Ms Livingston said.

“It had been for sale for a long time, it had not been a profitable business for some time, and it’s an opportunity because it’s such an iconic building and most people know about the Oriel.”

Ms Livingston and another partner in SubiDoo are also behind Lapa Brazilian Barbecue in Subiaco and Armadale.

Ms Livingston said that, after launching the Subiaco Lapa venue in 2011, it became clear something was lacking among the suburb’s range of hospitality venues.

The owners of SubiDoo have sought to fill that gap by creating the shared meal menu with affordable price as an intended point of difference.

“It’s better value, we’ve got more affordable drinks, our food is not overpriced and when you’re living in Perth, that’s quite a refreshing statement in itself,” Ms Livingston said.

“If people will pay it [other venues] will charge it, but we figured we’d just stop that, not be too greedy and encourage people to come in.”

A little further up Hay Street, the Subiaco Hotel has reopened earlier this year following 16 months of renovations.

The hotel was opened in 1897 and, like the Oriel, was a favoured destination in Perth. The Monaghan family has owned the business since 1971 and spent millions on the refurbishment to create a more modern venue.

Changes include a new outdoor rooftop terrace, a mezzanine level, upstairs function room, and an expanded lower level.

In Nedlands Steves Fine Wine and Food also unveiled a new look this year.

Owner Murray McHenry said the refurbishment was intended to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant, while general manager Glen Parsons said he hoped it would facilitate more conversation and education about wine and food.

Mr McHenry has added around $30,000 worth of his personal collection of wines to the bottle shop, while the refurbishment has also created a private dining room that can cater to functions for up to 16 guests.


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