A 'definitive line in the sand' has been drawn at the Sydney Junction Hotel

Hotel General Manager Mat Sargent is creating a brand new culture for the once troubled Sydney Junction Hotel.

When veteran hotel manager Mat Sargent was given the task of shifting the public perception of the Sydney Junction Hotel, he was under no illusion about the scope of what lie ahead. But, in just a few months a lot has changed at the hotel that was once known for its late-night dance culture... When Iris Capital purchased Sydney Junction Hotel late last year in a package deal along with the Gunyah and Argenton hotels, they knew the hotel came with a legacy.


Currently listed on Level Two of the NSW Government's Violent Venues list, the hotel has made the headlines on numerous occasions, for all the wrong reasons.


Enter Mat Sargent.


While he may look younger than his years, 'Sarge' as he is known around Newcastle, is a veteran hotel manager having spent the past 20 years running Newcastle venues from the iconic Brewery - now known as Queens Wharf Hotel, to the Prince of Wales Hotel, Junction Hotel and the Mary Ellen Hotel where he took a struggling pub and turned it into a premier craft beer establishment.


"When I took this role in November last year, I knew it would be difficult," Sarge said.


"There is a community perception out there that Sydney Junction Hotel is a violent venue that attracts people who are too young, who get filled up with alcohol, and who don't behave in a way that is socially acceptable.


"What we want to create instead, is a hotel with a healthy night life and better controls, that appeals to people aged 25 to around 45 who appreciate good food and live music, and families who can bring their kids in to enjoy our incredible indoor playground while they relax with dinner and a drink."



"What we want to create instead, is a hotel with a healthy night life and better controls, that appeals to people aged 25 to around 45 who appreciate good food and live music, and families who can bring their kids in to enjoy our incredible indoor playground while they relax with dinner and a drink..."


According to Sarge, restructuring the entertainment offering from what was exclusively DJs and electronica, to live music was one of the first major changes he felt was necessary.


"We really want to move away from that nightclub feel and mentality, so we sent what I believe was a pretty bold statement launching our live music with The Radiators, one of Australia's most iconic bands. That was a definitive line in the sand to say, 'this is where we're going'.


"We've since had an array of live music acts on Friday and Saturday nights and we're also about to introduce live music on Sunday afternoons. From here it's really about refining the music offering until we find the right fit."



"We sent what I believe was a pretty bold statement launching our live music with The Radiators, one of Australia's most iconic bands. That was a definitive line in the sand to say 'this is where we're going'... "


In addition to the drastic change in entertainment, Sarge has also taken lessons learned from his experience at other hotels and started implementing them at Sydney Junction Hotel. He said management style was a key priority in shifting the culture of the hotel.


"The mindset and role of staff has so much to do with the operation and success of any hotel," he said.


"My management style includes making sure security staff are not there to operate as thugs or to be intimidating. These days the role of security has a lot to do with communication and conflict resolution.


"You can really see already how that change has resulted in a decline of incidents to the stage that we have had none since I took over. None. And it would be great to see in the next round that the hotel has dropped down to Level Three on the NSW register which is an achievable result for us now.



"You can really see already how that change has resulted in a decline of incidents to the stage that we have had none since I took over. None..."


“What we want is to create a venue that appeals to the local community, to invite people back so they can see how much things have changed.


"We adhere to responsible service of alcohol, we don't have altercations in the venue, we have great live music, there is an incredible food offering with hatted chef Kylie Foster in the restaurant, and we have the only indoor kid's playground of its size within the inner city area.



"Local anti-alcohol campaigner Tony Brown and his friends were even in here for dinner recently, so we must be doing something right..."


"Local anti-alcohol campaigner Tony Brown and his friends were even in here for dinner recently, so we must be doing something right."


Sydney Junction Hotel is open seven days per week for lunch and dinner, and kids eat free (with a main meal) from Monday to Thursday.


Weekly entertainment includes trivia, comedy nights, family fun days and live music every Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.


Head to the website www.sjh.com.au for a full entertainment listing, gig guide and food specials.



#SJs #HamiltonHotels #NewcastlePubs #HunterHotels #NewcastleNightLife #WhatsOnNewcastle #AHANewcastleHunter #PubStyle #Hamilton #HamiltonEntertainment #FamilyFriendly


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Australian Hotels Association 2018