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WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT
OF THE LAST 12 MONTHS
We’ve had an exceptional year. We’ve had
substantial growth across the group. We’ve
acquired some very exciting new properties and
we’ve developed some of our existing properties.
We’ve added some really exciting talent into the
mix and we’ve had a good time doing it.
WITH SUCH A BIG FOCUS ON
FOOD AT MERIVALE, HOW
DO YOU SCOUT AND RETAIN
I think it’s like anything in business, you need
to recruit the best if you want to have the best.
And it’s not just chefs, it’s your IT department,
your marketing department, your finance
department. So of course we have a strong
focus on recruiting the best chef possible for
the role. Sometimes our concepts lead the
recruiting, and then, more often than not, the
talent leads to development [of concepts].
We’ve got a great succession within the
group, so there’s plenty of room for individuals
to grow and be trained under many different,
very talented chefs. An ambitious apprentice
who’s got a lot of raw talent can come in and
train under Peter Doyle for six months, and
then go to Dan Hong, and then could go and
work under Ben Greeno. So it’s a fantastic
opportunity for ambitious chefs to work
with us because they get such a diversity of
training. You can’t find that anywhere else.
You’d actually have to swap jobs and go to
a different company. But we can do that all
under the one house, the one umbrella. So it’s a
fantastic opportunity for people that are serious
about this profession and really want to learn
from some of the best. And I think that’s what
attracts people as well. And people will find
their niche within the company.
WHAT MADE THE THREE
PUBS YOU BEGAN
DEVELOPING IN 2015
Well [they were attractive] for different reasons,
but all grounded by the same principal which
is the quality of the property. The Newport is
arguably one of the greatest pub locations in
Australia. It’s just a remarkable site – that’s
position, location and size – and I think there’s
a great opportunity for us to do something
really tailored to the community up there. Not
dissimilar to what we did up in Coogee Pavilion,
which is another iconic landmark location.
With The Paddington, I remember Paddington
in its heyday and how exciting and vibrant it
was and I believe we can get that back. So I
guess I wanted to further invest in the area, to
inject some of our offerings into the street to
help revive it. That was another sort of strategic
acquisition around property to help boost our
existing properties around there. With the
Queen Vic, I think it’s a really exciting area that
will continue to grow, and the more exciting
offerings and diverse offerings the better.
WHEN RENOVATING AND
WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS
FOR CREATING ITS LOOK
I think they’re led by location. The Coogee
Pavilion for instance, was the location. That
led design and we wanted to design something
specifically for the community there, and then
we found the talent that would fit that brief.
The Paddington for instance, Ben Greeno was
the talent, and we thought about what we
could design around him, and what sort of food
would cater for the local community as well.
We have a panel of people including architects,
stylists, my sister [Bettina] and myself, and
we all sit down and nut out a concept and a
design, and we all work cohesively together on
it. It’s a joint approach.
A LOT OF YOUR PUBS
HAVE SMALL BAR AREAS
WITHIN THEM. WHY IS THIS
We’ve been putting small bars within the hotels,
since 1997, so it’s always been a part of our
model, and it comes down to diversity of offering.
A small venue offers a very different experience to
a larger venue. You get that level of intimacy and
specialisation, so it’s a very different experience
from a large venue. Each venue has a different
purpose and a different offering, so you can go
to the same venue more than once for many
WHAT WILL YOU BE
FOCUSING ON IN YOUR
PUBS IN 2016?
More of the same! We’ve always been doing
live music and small bars, we’ve always done
larger and smaller restaurants. Really, across
the portfolio we do pretty much everything!
Each venue will continue to have a mix of what
we think is appropriate for its environment.
I think the customer has developed. The
customer is more willing to experience and try
new things. The customer is very educated now
and is very discerning. They know what they want
and they expect quality. So we just have to try
and continue to up the ante and deliver as best we
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