The newly unveiled The Prince at Merewether has undergone an incredible transformation
Part owners and business managers Ty and Julianne Burford had a vivid vision for the future of the venue, that would not only bring the pub back to life, but also honour the important legacy that is the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Passers by will already notice a big change outside the venue- the exterior of the building has been freshly painted, and new signage sits proud. The hotel has been re-branded from the Prince of Wales to The Prince of Merewether.
“Everyone refers to the venue as ‘The Prince’ so we decided to go with that, and just underpin it with our location," Ty said.
"There’s quite a few Prince of Wales hotels across Australia, and we wanted to uniquely represent ours. We’ve incorporated the Prince of Wales feathers into the logo as a nod to our heritage. Since April, much of the hotel’s interior has been completely gutted. Now having recently commenced Stage Two of the project, everything is starting to take shape.
“We really want to create a space that we’re proud of, that will have something for everyone, that people will enjoy coming to, and that we and our staff can enjoy working in.
“This is a large venue so we’ve divided up the space to have a brand new state-of-the-art sports bar, a welcoming public bar at the front, restaurant space at the back, and upstairs we have a private dining room and bar area for functions and general patronage, opening up onto that iconic, expansive refurbished balcony.”
"We have a private dining room and bar area for functions and general patronage, opening up onto that iconic, expansive refurbished balcony...”
During Stage One, an entirely new kitchen has been built, along with the creation of a state of the art sports bar, gaming room, upstairs balcony bar and private dining room. These areas are now open, and according to Ty, so far feedback has been great.
“Upstairs our balcony bar is lighter and brighter than before- transformed to bring the outdoors in, capitalising on the expansive balcony and our coastal location," he said.
“Downstairs our locals are loving the new state of the art sports bar – which has seven big screens so we can show 4 sports and racing all at once.”
Dining has been a major focus of the new look and feel Prince, with Tim Montgomery on board as a part owner and Executive Chef. Tim has been a long-time friend and business partner of the couple, having already worked together to create and build the successful Rascal Burger brand.
“Tim is a hatted chef and will put his name to all the food, and provide support to our Head Chef Sean Townsend, who has joined us from Muse Kitchen in the Hunter Valley, so we are pretty chuffed about having both Tim and Sean involved,” Ty said.
“While Sean is a hatted chef, our food offering is not going to be pitched as fine-dining. It’s going to be approachable, delicious pub food offered via both table service in the restaurant space, and bistro-style throughout the hotel. Sean is also a bit of a charcuterie specialist, so there will be a top notch selection of house-made charcuterie on the menu.
“In addition, among all the new ‘toys’ in the new kitchen, we have a brand new Italian pizza oven and a talented pizza chef on board. The pizzas are next level – made on 24 hour proved, hand stretched dough, using only the best Italian and local ingredients”
"It’s going to be approachable, delicious pub food offered via both table service in the restaurant space, and bistro-style throughout the hotel..."
While the restaurant space is being built, the kitchen is serving a bar style menu in the sports bar and balcony bar. It’s a taste of what’s to come when the full restaurant area opens later in the year. The kitchen is currently open for dinner from 6pm daily, and for lunch Friday to Sunday.
On the beverage side of things, much thought has gone into the new drinks offering too. The balcony bar is stocked with a range of handpicked wines, craft beer, espresso martinis and gin infused kombucha on tap, and a seasonal cocktail list developed in collaboration with our friends from Coal & Cedar. There is also live music scheduled in the balcony bar on Friday and Saturday nights.
In addition to the growing chef team, Natalie James, a former General Manager for The Solotel Group has come on board as General Manager. Nat brings a wealth of experience and ideas to the table and will be closely supported by Operations Manager Nathan Wright who has been working with Ty and Julianne for years.
“We’re really excited about the team that is forming here. We’ve had the best response we’ve ever seen to recent job ads - we’ve had hundreds of applications for chef, bar and restaurant positions. There are some really great people coming on board,” Ty said.
"We’re really excited about the team that is forming here. We’ve had the best response we’ve ever seen to recent job ads - we’ve had hundreds of applications for chef, bar and restaurant positions. .."
Stage One of the renovation is now complete, and patrons can access the new balcony bar, sports bar and gaming room, while the public bar and restaurant dining space is closed for Stage Two of the development.
“We are expecting to hit all of our targets time wise, which is great and the builders we’ve used Built, have been amazing," Ty said.
“A renovation like this is a major project and having it go smoothly has allowed us to really pay attention to every detail and make sure everything is perfect.”
Ty and Julianne believe once works are complete, the hotel will have a look and feel that separates it from other recently renovated hotels that have embraced the on-trend urban industrial feel.
“The design concept for the new look Prince could be best described as a New York/ Melbourne design feel with old school charm and a contemporary twist," Julianne said.
“Think rich tartan carpet, wall panelling, patinated brass, rich colours and textures that hark back to the nostalgia of the traditional public house. The design, conceptualised by Melbourne’s Bergman & Co, aims to create a casual, comfortable environment to enjoy good food, wine, music and conservation.”
The project is expected to be fully completed with all areas of the hotel fully open by late September 2019.