Home' Australian Hotelier : AH JULY 2016 Contents DESIGN & BUILD
As a craft beer enthusiast, Liam Ganley
frequented hotels on regular pub-crawls,
realising Melbourne's most bustling pub
culture existed on the north side of the city.
As owner of popular Collingwood café Lemon Middle
& Orange and St Kilda Irish pub The Fifth Province,
Ganley was disappointed by the lack of good craft
beer pubs on offer on the south side.
When the 150 pax capacity space in St Kilda's
iconic George Hotel was put up for sale just across
the road from his other venue, he jumped at the
opportunity to take over the space.
With the renovation of new craft beer pub Freddie
Wimpoles, another chapter of history has been added
to the old hotel. Freddie Wimpoles does not disappoint,
with Ganley overseeing a complete makeover of the
space. The craft beer pub is the latest addition to the
surge of new places opening up on Fitzroy Street,
including Misery Guts and POW Kitchen, giving a
reason to explore South Melbourne once again.
Originally established as the Terminus Hotel in 1857,
the hotel was built opposite the new St Kilda railway
station. Some years later, a hotelkeeper from the Isle
of Man, Octavius Frederick Wimpole bought the
establishment and renamed it The George Hotel. A
lover of hunting, beer and whiskey, Frederick, or
'Freddie' as his friends liked to call him, would go
on to become mayor of St Kilda and director of the
Melbourne Co-Operative Brewing Company -- now
known as Carlton & United Breweries.
Over the years, Freddie renovated the building to
accommodate his family and multiple new business
ventures. The additions formed a structure that
closely resembles the one that exists on site today.
After his death, his family sold the hotel after 80 years
of ownership and since then the building has been
home to various undertakings, including a popular
alternative and punk music venue from the late 1970s
to mid-1980s, originally called the Crystal Ballroom
and then the Seaview Hotel. Artists that once graced
the establishment's stage include INXS, Paul Kelly,
Nick Cave and Iggy Pop.
WARMING UP THE PLACE
"When I took over the hotel, the interior was run
down with a fit-out that was cold and uninviting -- not
conducive to the public bar space that I envisioned
for Freddie Wimpoles. It was clear that a lot of work
needed to be done," says Ganley.
"The last successful business here was The Melbourne
Wine Room, focusing on food and wine, but the
property was subdivided and the commercial kitchen was
leased to another business. What was left was a public
bar, so we wanted to make it a bloody good one!"
Ganley was inspired by bars like Shady Pines
Saloon in Sydney and Melbourne's Heartbreaker
for the interior design. Working with Corso Interior
Architecture, a small company in North Melbourne,
the internal layout has been redesigned around the new
bar. Although somewhat limited in the changes that
could be made due to the building's heritage listing,
Ganley and Corso have managed to reinvent the space
fairly seamlessly. Non-structural columns have been
removed to accommodate a warmer interior as well as
beige-coloured tiles on the walls and floor.
"Almost everything that couldn't be changed
structurally has either been covered or stripped,"
In an effort to "warm the place up", the publican's
brief requested earthy materials, soft fabrics, comfortable
seating and taxidermy for the decor. Around the venue
you can find plenty of recycled materials, scattered old
wood crates and an impressive collection of beer cans
stacked to form a feature wall. The dark wood floors
have been left untouched, retaining a standout feature
that ties the building's history together with the new
vision. "Thankfully the whole process went relatively
CRAFTING THE FOCUS
Fellow craft beer enthusiast and friend, Scott McKay,
has been brought in as general manager and head
bartender. McKay has a wealth of experience in the
hospitality industry accumulated over eight years at
other well-known Melbourne waterholes including
Bridie O'Reilly's, The Elephant and Wheelbarrow and
The Portland Hotel. "I got involved as soon as I heard
that Liam was taking it over with a focus on craft
beer," says McKay.
Craft beer is first and foremost at Freddie
Wimpoles. The 12 rotating taps pour the best
Australian and international craft beer, including
respected names such as Feral Brewing and Brooklyn
Brewery. There is a takeaway licence until midnight;
OPENING YOUR OWN PUB
Liam Ganley shares his tips on opening your own pub for anyone considering making the leap into
operating a venue:
"The best advice I can give is doing your research. Engage with the local authorities and establish
what permits are required. So often this is overlooked and projects get stopped in their tracks,
eating up valuable rent-free periods and often exhausting them, not a good start.
I can't stress how important it is to have a well-documented design. Employ an architect, interior
designer, or if you're designing it yourself as I did, engage a draftsman to document the design. This
will enable you to get accurate quotations from trades and can help avoid unforseen costs.
Finally, and most importantly, program your works and know your lead times. Joinery, stainless
steel, furniture, these all have long lead times -- up to 12 weeks. Get organised or you'll have no
seats for those bums."
AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER JULY 2016 | 27
IN AN EFFORT TO
"WARM THE PLACE
UP", THE PUBLICAN'S
AND TAXIDERMY FOR
THE DECOR. AROUND
THE VENUE YOU CAN
FIND PLENTY OF
SCATTERED OLD WOOD
CRATES AND AN
COLLECTION OF BEER
TO FORM A
(L-R) Liam Ganley, Wayne Sebberry
and Scott McKay
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