Five months after shutting its historic doors, Sydney’s inner west venue the Imperial Hotel reopened last night, albeit with a limited capacity.
News Corp Australia reports that the Erskineville hotel has some big plans in store, including Australia’s first “gay and lesbian rooftop chapel”. The announcement follows the historically strong ties the hotel has had with the LGBTI community.
“We are not just thinking about the local community but also the gay and lesbian community who have had strong ties to the space for many, many years,” The Imperial’s Communications Manager Mr Kassas said.
“We would love to see couples tie the knot and in the future it would be amazing to see same-sex marriage offered across Australia. The fact we could be championing it here is great.”
“We have personified the venue and she is definitely female and she is a woman who has seen so much over the years and she will definitely be a venue that will be championing change by working together with the community.”
So far, only the ground floor will be opened under new owners Fraser Short and Scott Leach. Back in August, the venue was sold for an estimated $6.5 million. The owners have said that while the pub will continue its LGBTI roots, it will also be moving in a new direction, beginning with a ‘Small Bar Edition’ which will have a stronger focus on cocktails. This follows the news earlier this year that the venue was likely to be transformed into a high end dining venue.
“The front bar will be open and so will the cabaret room which we have changed to the Sweet Escape. We will again be working with notable people like Paul Mac and Jonny Seymour who have a lot of history at the venue,” Mr Kassas said.
“We have taken the steps not to open the basement bar yet in order to work out what will be suitable in that space.”
The owners have also stated that they are working with gay musicians and promoters on future events. However, the venue will have to overcome its problematic and illegal past to regain its popularity. The previous owner Mr Danesi leased the venue to Spice International earlier this year, only for the police to raid the premises several times and allegedly find staff using illicit drugs, a male patron licking spilt alcohol from the floor and another patron buying drugs. This led to numerous enforced closures and eventually, a full hiatus.
However, with new owners and an inspirational rooftop marriage plan that seems in line with its LGBTI history, it seems The Imperial is headed for better and more lucrative days.