New Head Chef MD Hossain & Licensee Jay Pring
Since coming under the ownership of Iris Capital in 2019, the Sydney Junction Hotel was quick to rephrase its reputation as a troubled venue and in the past six months while COVID-19 saw most of the hospitality industry shutdown, a new team was busy behind the scenes creating the next incarnation of the iconic hotel.
New licensee Jay Pring may have a had a rocky introduction to both the Iris Capital team and the Sydney Junction Hotel with his first order of business being to close the venue down when the COVID-19 Delta variant found its way to the Hunter, but that hasn’t stopped him forging ahead with a plan to re-invent the former nightclub-style hotel.
“On my first day I had to tell the team we were closing down,” he said.
“It wasn’t an ideal way to start a new role but that’s COVID for you.”
While Pring didn’t have a long way to travel from his last role at the Northern Star Hotel just down the road, it was due to the pandemic that the former business development manager found himself in the country when the opportunity with Iris arose.
“My family and I were living in Singapore and had come to Australia for a holiday when the pandemic began in 2020,” he said.
“It had been our intention to return overseas but we were unable to cross international borders and by the time restrictions lifted my son was happy in his new school and we had all found ways to re-start our lives here.
“I had a role at the Northern Star and when this opportunity came up with Iris it felt like the perfect next step for me.”
And it seems he was right.
As many venues struggle with dire staff shortages coming out of lockdown, Iris Capital Operations Manager Locky Heffernan credits Pring’s ability to keep the team engaged throughout the pandemic for the venue’s current success.
“As someone who came into Iris right as we locked down, his ability to build and retain a team during an extended shutdown exceeded our expectations,” Herffernan said.
“He was able to engage the staff and cultivate relationships to keep them motivated which has been the hardest thing for our industry. During lockdown, so many staff have left hospitality to start careers in other industries and it’s the teams that managed to maintain contact and engagement throughout the pandemic that were the ones who prospered. Thanks to Jay, while we haven’t been untouched by staff shortages, we aren’t feeling it like some of the other venues both here and in the industry.”
"During lockdown, so many staff have left hospitality to start careers in other industries and it’s the teams that managed to maintain contact and engagement throughout the pandemic that were the ones who prospered" - Locky Heffernan
Having undergone a major facelift and re-merg