Two years after it began, a massive project to overhaul and re-invent Hotel Jesmond is finally complete.
According to hotelier Dan Ferguson, despite spending the past two years living upstairs with his young family while a major renovation project took place, the outcome has been well worth the dirt, dust and debris - especially when the final product has been nominated as a finalist in six categories of this year's Australian Hotels Association Awards for Excellence.
"Long days with the builders and the process has been pretty hard, but looking at the final product I couldn't be happier," Dan said.
"It's been a long time coming, but the outcome is everything we could have hoped for."
Having come into the hotel four years ago, Dan said venue owners Harris and Narvo Hotels had always been planning the renovation once sister venue the Bayview Hotel at Woy Woy - which won last year's AHA NSW Regional Hotel of the Year Award was complete.
"The plan was always to transform this venue into something that would provide value and attract a wider demographic of our local market," Dan said.
"We wanted something open and airy with a lot of natural light because the old pub had a lot of low ceilings and bulkheads. It was dark and segmented and our food offering, having been a Chinese restaurant for so long, was not catering to a wider market."
"We wanted something open and airy with a lot of natural light because the old pub had a lot of low ceilings and bulkheads..."
The new-look hotel could be described as urban industrial, with a number of stand-out features including a spectacular beer garden, and bright open-plan eating and bar area complete with an elegant wood-finish bar and opulent draping greenery.
"The feedback from our local community has been fantastic," Dan said.
"The positive response has also been reflected in patronage and we are definitely attracting a more diverse range of customer now. We still have a strong patronage from the university, local, and blue-collar market because we have created a great new sports bar and still have all their favourite beers on tap.
"But we have also brought in a lot of craft beers, we now have 19 beers in total - 10 craft and nine traditional, and upmarket wine which has brought in a whole new crowd. Our food offering is also amazing. It's pub food done really well and we're seeing a lot of families coming in now as well.
"The locals here were screaming out for somewhere to go that had live music and good food. They tell us all the time how much they love it. It's always been a good pub, but now there's really something for everyone and caters to a wider market that sees people come in two or three times per week."
The high-standard of the hotel and it's food offering was recently recognised by Australian Hotels Association NSW, with six finalist nominations in this year's industry Awards for Excellence to be held on Tuesday, 9 November at The Star, Sydney.
"Our Chef Paul Thornton has really taken this kitchen on and made it his own. To have three food finalist nominations straight up is huge, especially Chef of the Year in our first year of trading as a new kitchen..."
The hotel has been nominated as a finalist in the categories of: Best Sporting Entertainment Venue, Best Regional TAB Venue, Best Parmi, Best Burger, Regional Chef of the Year, and Regional Hotel of the Year.
"Our Chef Paul Thornton has really taken this kitchen on and made it his own. To have three food finalist nominations straight up is huge, especially Chef of the Year in our first year of trading as a new kitchen.
"But he's built it up from scratch, hired all the staff and created the menu with us. We're really proud of what he's achieved and the food offering we have here."
182 Newcastle Road, Jesmond
Ph: (02) 4955 9206