Home' Australian Hotelier : AH MAY 2016 Contents AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER MAY 2016 | 27
he Exchange Hotel has always been an iconic
venue in Townsville and the greater north
Queensland area, having been built in 1869.
The original building was razed to the ground
by fire in 1881, and was then rebuilt from brick.
The venue has had a colourful history, including
extensive renovations in 2009 by the current owners,
before being turned into a gentleman’s club in 2011. A
downturn in the economic climate forced the owners of
the building to limit their operations to the top floor of
the building and split the tenancy of the venue.
Emmanuel Bogiatzis and Clare Powell took over
the second tenancy, turning the venue back into
a pub, on one of the most prominent streets for
nightlife in Townsville, Flinders Street. Having owned
and operated the very successful cocktail bar and
restaurant Heritage Bar – just two doors down – for
21 years, the pair decided that they would also like to
run a bigger venue. Both as part of their established
brand, and in deference to the venue’s history, the pub
was renamed Heritage Exchange.
TIME FOR A CHANGE
When Bogiatzis and Powell took over the venue, the
décor in place was heavily themed and not in line with
the aesthetic they were going for. The duo wanted to
return the pub to a more traditional hotel aesthetic.
With the majority of the clientele being locals varying
in age from 18 to 60, making the space welcoming to
all age groups was important.
With Powell coming from a creative background
specialising in design, video and photography, the
partners decided to forgo hiring an architectural firm –
as the structural elements of the building were to remain
the same – and do all of the interior design themselves.
There was six months of planning and design, down to
the last detail, before the renovations began.
The main renovations undertaken were exposing
as much of the original red brick as possible, and
completely redoing the outdoor area. As the venue
had three bar spaces, all three back bars were re-built
“We wanted to bring back the old-worldy charm
we thought a historic pub of the 1800s should have,”
Other renovations included constructing a stage
and DJ booth in the old dining area to host live music,
the introduction of copper lighting fixtures, and fixed
timber dry bars in the raised area of the main bar.
Ryan Moss of Fair and Square Carpentry, who helped
with the renovations, understood the look that Bogiatzis
and Powell were going for: “The Exchange had always
been a familiar icon in Townsville, but recent renovations
had obscured some of that authentic charm.”
With a brief to refresh the space while maintaining as
much of the original character as possible, Moss set up
about re-using some materials, while integrating others.
“We re-used as much of the original timbers and
trims wherever possible, like re-purposing the large
square coconut timber columns from behind the bar
to create the high bar tables.”
Throughout the venue, a mixture of timber, marble
and glass has been used to create an updated homage
to the history of the hotel.
The other main change to Heritage Exchange was
to include three very different bar spaces – not
necessarily themed so as to alientate people, but to
allow people to experience three different settings
within the one venue.
“We wanted to create three different style bars so
that patrons could enjoy multiple atmospheres within
the one venue. The structural layout of the hotel lent
itself to this vision,” said Bogiatzis.
The three different spaces include the Whisky
Bar, which is a small carpeted area that houses the
live music stage. This area includes a feature wall of
exposed brick, and a huge back bar stocked with 80
different whiskies from around the world. The room
is furnished with worn leather lounges, low tables and
leather ottomans to exude a relaxed and traditional
The Public Bar is housed within a split-level area,
with marble covering the lower floor, and timber
floors covering the upper area. The bar tops are made
of black marble. The upper area is also home to the
DJ booth and main dance floor, making the Public Bar
the general bar area of Heritage Exchange.
Lastly, the Rum Garden is the outdoor space of the
venue, decorated with colourful shutters and festoon
lighting. An enormous fig tree makes for the main
feature of the outdoor area. Fifty different rums hold
court in the back bar of the eponymous area, making
it the most popular of the venue.
With three very different bars to take advantage of,
Bogiatzis and Powell realised that they can not only
offer their patrons different experiences, but can also
offer the different spaces as private function areas.
“We knew because of the layout, being three
separate spaces, we could target the function market
and offer three very different themed rooms with your
own private bar and bartenders,” said Bogiatzis.
In fact, since opening, function bookings have been
steadily growing, with an exceptional Christmas period
of bookings, including multiple nights where all three
spaces were booked out for different functions.
NOTHING PAINT CAN’T FIX
While the main aesthetic of Heritage Exchange is
that of a traditional, old-school pub, it was still
important to Powell to give the pub a point of
difference in its look. One of the ways this was
achieved was through paint.
First, the entire interior – where brick was not
exposed, was painted black to add to the dark, moody
feel of the pub. Paint was also used to emphasise
other fixtures, rather than as a feature.
“I worked with Emmanuel on a colour scheme
which highlighted the existing red brick of the venue.
We also freshened up the outside of the venue and
matched it in with black from inside,” stated Stephen
Harris of SJH Painting & Decorating.
Stencilling is also a big eye-catcher at Heritage
Exchange, especially in the Whisky Bar and
Rum Garden. Whisky logos from various brands
represented behind the bar have been stencilled onto
the red brick feature wall in the Whisky Bar, and rum
brand signage decorates the outdoor space.
“WE WANTED TO
BARS SO THAT
THE ONE VENUE.
LAYOUT OF THE HOTEL
LENT ITSELF TO THIS
Bespoke fonts add to
the quirky nature of
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