Home' Australian Hotelier : AH February 2017 Contents AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER FEBRUARY 2017 | 31
ANDY MULLINS, DIRECTOR
SAND HILL ROAD
IN 2016 YOU LAUNCHED THE
GARDEN STATE HOTEL, ONE
OF THE LARGEST PUBS IN
MELBOURNE. WHAT WAS THAT
The process for us on Garden State was
dichotomic. On one hand we finally found a CBD
site to realise a vision we’d been conceiving for
many years; a large format venue along the lines
of something you’d find in Sydney or Brisbane,
but that’d also capture all the authenticity and
humility of a Melbourne-type offering.
On the other hand, we had to move quickly.
We met the Zagame family, our landlords, on
a Tuesday. We met our financier that afternoon
and spent several hours planning our funding
strategy with him. And by Wednesday morning
we’d committed to the Garden State venture
and laid down our money. It was certainly
intense. But our speed of execution has always
been the key to our growth.
We drilled down deep into our key success
factors in terms of deals we’ve won and lost
over the years. The lesson we learned is simple:
the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed
HOW HAS GARDEN STATE HOTEL
FARED SINCE OPENING?
It’s been a fantastic opening, but having said
that, it’s just an opening. We have really
exciting plans for the venue and really exciting
plans for the role Garden State can play in
our city. We are passionate Melbourne boys.
This city has been such an amazing place for
us to grow up, cut our teeth as businessmen,
and ultimately now contribute to creating
experiences for locals or travellers in the city.
YOU DRAW A LOT OF INSPIRATION
FROM DIFFERENT HOSPITALITY
OFFERINGS GLOBALLY. WHICH
AUSTRALIAN OPERATORS DO YOU
ADMIRE, AND WHY?
In terms of other operators, there’s only one
group that’s truly inspired us from where we
were back in 1999 to where are today. They’re
two brothers from Melbourne who created
such icons as Stokehouse and Prince of Wales
Hotel. John and Frank Van Haandel. Two guys
with an epic vision for outstanding hospitality.
They’re absolutely our industry heroes. But
more than any other group, it’s all the industry
operators out there who’ve thrown everything
they have into the dream of owning a pub that
truly inspires us. Always has, always will.
YOUR ETHOS IS THAT PUBS
SHOULD CATER TO EVERYONE.
HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE THIS
IN EACH OF YOUR VENUES,
WHILE STILL HAVING DISTINCT
IDENTITIES FOR EACH?
We’ve always maintained a very humble idea
of what a pub is. To us, very simply, it all starts
with a public bar, a bistro and a beer garden.
And if you’ve been to Garden State Hotel,
that’s exactly what you get. The rest is fun and
engaging and totally inspiring. But it’s a pub
first, no question. And each of our other sites
is too. A pub should be a place of diversity, in
all of its forms: economic, gender, race, class,
sexual orientation and religious freedom. And
man oh man, have I seen some bloody great
arguments in our public bars over the years
between gay priests and atheists!
SAND HILL ROAD DONATES
OVER $100,000 EACH YEAR
TO COMMUNITY INITIATIVES
THROUGH YOUR CHARITY. WHY IS
THIS IMPORTANT TO THE GROUP?
Karma Kegs is our expression of building better
communities. In particular we are personally
devoted to providing a private commercial
solution to how poorly our First Nations
people have been treated historically. Our pubs
have built a BMX track in a remote Aboriginal
community in Port Augusta. And the kids there
loved it. We’ve made a short film that won one
of the world’s biggest festival prizes, at Berlin
International Film Festival, with these very
same kids. We’ve got an amazing example of
one little fella we met in Port Augusta some
14 years ago who went on to become school
captain at one of Adelaide’s most prestigious
private schools. Every May we bring 15
kids from this community to Melbourne for
Michael Long’s “Long Walk” and the AFL’s
“Dreamtime at the G”. We know our place
in the world as a community funder is small,
so we avoid large projects. We need to help
families and projects that simply wouldn’t exist
without our funding. We’d love to take Karma
Kegs nationally, and we are all ears to those
who’d like to help us get it done!
WHAT IS DISTINCT ABOUT THE
MELBOURNE PUB SCENE?
ARE THERE ANY CHALLENGES
ASSOCIATED WITH IT?
We wouldn’t necessarily distinguish between
Melbourne pubs and Australian pubs. Just last
week I was having a beer in the Tiwi Islands
pub of Bathurst Island. Same as in Richmond:
friends, locals, traders, families all mingling in a
space that serves to promote community.
In terms of challenges, or threats, I sincerely
appreciate the position of cross-party support
in ensuring Melbourne remains a 24/7 city.
Rather than punish all operators for the crimes,
or lack of due diligence of only a few, let’s
strengthen the industry by promoting and
rewarding those who go above and beyond
their legal call of duty, and above and beyond
those who are choosing to ignore the statutes
and protocols of running safe venues.
Garden State Hotel
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