After twenty years under the ownership of father and son team Gary and Anthony Hird, one of Newcastle's most iconic pubs, the Hotel Delany was recently purchased and added to the Marvan Hotel Group's stable of venues.
The hotel group, which operates a number of venues across Sydney and Regional NSW, took control of the Delany on 9 April 2018, and has appointed veteran hotelier Nic Barnett to take the reins of what, at one time, was arguably one of Newcastle's most popular pubs.
Hotel Delany hotelier, and former Novocastrian, Nic Barnett
"To me, a publican was always a pillar of the community, and that is still my view of what a publican should be..."
Prior to his appointment at the Delany, the once local barman spent a great deal of his life in Newcastle, taking his first bar job at Belmont Sporties, and later working as bar manager of Rutherford Hotel.
"My first job bar job was here in Newcastle in 1998, and then I was later bar manager at Rutherford Hotel in 2003," Nick says.
"My family has lived here since 1998 and my wife, before we were married, was working at the Queens Wharf Hotel.
"In the past I have spent a lot of time in Newcastle, but I have also worked out in regional NSW pubs and lived in Sydney working for the Redcape Hotel Group. But my wife and I moved back here to Newcastle as a family 18 months ago and I was commuting back and forth until I was approached with the opportunity to take on the Delany."
With a former focus on food and beverage, Nic says he will be looking to bring a unique mix of modern cuisine and cocktails, coupled with the hospitality of a country pub, to the Delany.
"I grew up just west of Aulbury where there were country publicans, and I still hold the role of publican as something people should be proud of," he says.
"To me, a publican was always a pillar of the community and that is still my view of what a publican should be. This venue has certainly got a CBD element and feel to it, but it also has a good front bar with a bunch of great of locals. So I think regardless of what sort of venue you are running, being a part of the community is part of the job."
In terms of cuisine, the Del's new menu is an inviting addition to Newcastle's famous 'eat street' with a range of delicious options, including Duck Pie using slow roasted luck legs, wild mushroom, truffle, polenta, broccolini, puff pastry and ju - and the Free Range Chicken Breast (pictured below).
Free Range Chicken Breast with pearl cous cous, pistachio, speck, dukkah-crusted honey carrot and cumin yoghurt
While offering a quality food and beverage experience is certainly high on Nic's list of priorities for the venue, it is not the only addition on his things to do list.
"Going forward we will be doing some refurbishment and also looking at design," he says.
"But that can take time, so in the meantime we will work with what already have. We've moved our bands upstairs so it doesn't clash with the sports bar, and there's been a good response to that.
"We've also implemented consistent trading hours for the restaurant, which is lunch and dinner seven days per week and added a bar menu.
"But for me, the main thing is getting the basics right. That means providing personality and great service.
"People come to the pub for the experience, not just to have a beer, so making sure they have a positive one is important to me."
"People come to the pub for the experience, its not just to have a beer, so making sure they have a positive one is important to me..."
In addition to having bands and other live entertainment positioned upstairs, the upper level of the hotel will also be promoted as a function space for gatherings.
"The space up there is phenomenal, but people don't even know it's there," Nic says.
"So we are going to be focusing on utilising that space as well."
Overall, Nic says he hopes his approach and experience will eventually see the hotel return to its glory days as one of the most popular pubs in town.
"I would love this place to be seen as a destination venue," he says.
"I remember back when I used to live in Union Street, I loved coming here. We'll definately be looking to get back to those roots."
Supporting the community is also an important step for the venue, according to Nic.
"We want to really be a part of the local community. That's very important to me. So we'll also be on the lookout for some sponsorship opportunities and community partnerships as well."
134 Darby Street, Newcastle, 2300
Ph: (02) 4949 1627
Nikki Taylor is the Australian Hotels Association, Newcastle Hotels Representative