Home' Australian Hotelier : AH DECEMBER 2017 Contents The Fitzgibbons family have owned the pub now known as
Osbourne Hotel in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, since 1980. For
the past 15 years it has been operated as Fringe Bar, a late night
spot that mainly traded after 10pm on Friday and Saturday
nights. Plans have been in the works to completely transform the venue
for a while, but had been held up by red tape for some time.
Director Brian Fitzgibbons had wanted to overhaul the business so that
its principal trade was not limited to late-night hours, especially with the
mandatory ID scanning impeding entry and trade after 10pm.
"We had a session with a branding company in Brisbane who helped
us to set about a new strategy. They asked us a lot of questions which
helped us resolve what we were trying to achieve, which was bringing it
back to a really good hotel, rather than a late-night spot. With Fringe,
really all the business was done after 10pm, whereas now it's happening
from lunchtime through, so we're not so dependent on the late night
dollar. It's more sustainable and more bankable too."
The renovation consisted of two elements, a minor strip back of
the interior of the heritage-listed pub, and -- the main aspect -- the
construction of a new beer garden and services in the space was the
old driveway for the loading dock. As part of the transformation, the
pub name was changed back to its original title, Osbourne Hotel, after
Charles Osbourne who built the hotel in 1864.
Having done a lot of research in other parts of Australia and in the
United States, Fitzgibbons wanted to create a beer garden for the hotel,
in an area of Brisbane where outdoor hospitality spaces are rare. Brand
+ Slater Architects and construction firm Rohrig -- who had both worked
on several projects for the Fitzgibbons family before -- were brought in to
bring to life the vision for an outdoor space that would serve as the main
hub of the hotel.
"The outdoor beer garden space was very heavily driven by the
hoteliers. They wanted a very traditional beer garden. There's not any of
those in the Valley, not many in the CBD either. They've always operated
pubs with beer gardens and they wanted to reintroduce one in the city,"
explains Rod Barr, director of Brand + Slater Architects.
While taking over the space of the driveway and old loading zone,
the beer garden was essentially a new build, and while that is easier to
construct than working on the renovation of a building that is over 100
years old, there were still difficult elements to the build.
"There were complexities with coordinating new structural elements
for the large overhead polycarbonate roof and services for new
kitchen and bars in the existing building. There was tight site access
with working on and inner-city site in a small area, which had many
subcontractors working on top of each other. But we were able to
bring the client's vision to reality and breathe new life into this historic
Brisbane landmark hotel," states Matt Tucker, construction manager
The new beer garden is an eye-catching space using traditional
materials in untraditional ways. The area is full of timber, red brick and
concrete, but not in areas where you would expect. Recycled brickwork
is used as flooring around the vicinity of the bar, and on the bar itself.
Timber is used on the walls and overhead, to create a feeling of enclosure.
Polished concrete is used as the bar top. Plantings and colourful artwork
that has been created by various street artists over the last decade in
different stage of their careers -- including a piece from Lister, arguably
Australia's most famous street artist -- add warmth to the space.
"It's very tropical and suits Queensland. It certainly suits the Valley,
which is a very built-up commercial area. It's somewhere where you can
go -- particularly if you're working in one of the many high-rise buildings
now -- it's great to come out of that building and be able to relax a bit in
a place that offers a great variety of food and beverage in a very relaxed
atmosphere," states Fitzgibbons.
The area is topped off with a clear polycarbonate roof which is
AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER DECEMBER 2017 | 27
JUST LIKE HOME
When Brian Fitzgibbons was thinking about the concept of the new
Osbourne Hotel, he decided to make the beer garden the main hub
after thinking about home entertaining.
"If you think about your house when you have friends over,
where does everybody go? If you happen to have a back deck or
something like that, that's where people seem to be happiest --
sitting outside somewhere."
DESIGN & BUILD
Timber was used overhead to
create a sense of enclosure
for booth seating
Several art pieces
adorn the walls of
the beer garden
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