Updated: Jul 22, 2019
It’s been a work in progress since January, but six months on the new-look Imperial Hotel at Maitland is all but complete save a few finishing touches.
For the past 25 years, the Imperial Hotel was known as an Irish Pub complete with a timber-laden interior, red and green colour scheme and even the odd shamrock or two.
But earlier this year, hotel licensee Clayton Barrett and the venue’s owners together decided to change the look and feel of the pub to fill a gap in the local market.
“It had been known as an Irish Pub since 1994 and we just felt the Irish theme had become tired and outdated,” he said.
“This renovation has required gutting the entire building from the inside out and giving it a brand-new lease on life as a modern, spacious, bright venue with spaces that are useful and lend themselves to a variety of entertainment options.
“The new design, which has a focus on modern art deco, has achieved that goal of opening up and brightening the space while maintaining a comfortable and friendly environment which was key to the entire project.”
“The new design, which has a focus on modern art deco, has achieved that goal of opening up and brightening the space while maintaining a comfortable and friendly environment which was key to the entire project...”
While Clayton believes aesthetically the renovation has provided a more modern feel to the venue, other key aspects of the project have also made the hotel’s interior more practical.
“We’ve increased the seating capacity of the bistro from 120 to 150, and by opening it up and levelling it out we can use parts of the area that had been strictly dining spaces, to accommodate a focus on live music going forward.”
In terms of a live music offering, the hotel had only ever hosted soloists and duos due to the layout of the venue, but with the interior renovation complete patrons can also look forward to bands becoming a regular part of the entertainment schedule.
“We’ve never had bands here and it’s been great to start seeing that happen,” Clayton said.
“A lot of people didn’t realise that we did live music at all, they saw it as a place for DJs and karaoke and we’re trying change that to have a focus on live music.”
With only the façade and a few finishing touches to go, Clayton said feedback from the community has been positive.
“We’re getting really good feedback, particularly that the venue no longer feels closed in with separated and compartmentalised area. It’s much more open and people seem to enjoy that. Plus, it’s modern, with new furnishings and just has a great feel about it overall.”
“We’ve increased the seating capacity of the bistro from 120 to 150, and by opening it up and levelling it out we can use parts of the area that had been strictly dining spaces, to accommodate a focus on live music going forward...”
The hotel last week launched its new menu including the re-introduction of $14 lunch specials which has also been popular with patrons.
“The overall food offering is back to a pub-style menu, but the quality is what we’ve always been known for and that’s definitely still there,” Clayton said.
“Overall the project has been positive for us and for our patrons as well which is exactly what we wanted.”