Just eleven weeks into new operations, and the Petersham Inn is finding fortune in cheeky promotions and catering to its target audience.
First-time hotelier Bianca McDonald took on the leasehold business in early June, advancing her years in pub operations with a commitment to the Parramatta Road business.
A pragmatic new mother to a seven-month-old infant, McDonald has set about determining the wants of clientele to the Petersham watering hole, noting the widening opportunity being created by the reinvention of so many formerly working-class establishments.
Located on about 780 m² on a prominent corner of one of Sydney’s most congested traffic arteries, the building is the kind of classic two-storey red brick pub with quintessential mottled street-side wall tiles that would once have housed beer-swilling tradies every afternoon.
One of its few competitors in the suburb of Petersham is the Oxford Hotel – reimagined by Drink n Dine in 2013 from ‘titty’ bar into a food-centric hipster hideout. Patrick Gallagher brought further credibility to Norton’s on Norton, just three blocks away, reworking it as an Irish-themed PJ Gallaghers instalment.
The revised Petersham Inn is primarily an American-style sports bar, but with the new ‘Strip Inn’ section via a separate entrance, featuring topless waitresses and adult entertainment Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The new business has also introduced Wednesday night poker and Karaoke on Tuesdays and a range of short-term promotions, but by far the most attention was gained through the recent offer of ‘Hot Girls Eat Free’.
McDonald told PubTIC this “tongue-in-cheek” idea was in fact the biggest gauge of her audience.
“It proved our point that pubs are a man’s domain,” she said. “We only had six girls eat free, but we had a lot more men come in after the sign went up. And after all the media attention, it was really busy.”
Despite the fact that staff had been instructed to play coy and briefly debate all girl’s eligibility as ‘hot’ before offering the obligatory free feed, the usual backlash saw offended women’s groups blow steam and rile up convenient media.
“Totally appalled! That is absolutely outrageous in this day and age,” said one scandalised Inner West Mother.
The Inn was brokered by Ray White’s Blake Edwards, who concedes there is definitely a niche to be filled in the blue-collar-catered offering.
“With the lockout laws destroying the night life and adult entertainment industry in Kings Cross and the Oxford Hotel being converted by Drink N Dine, we have been receiving plenty of inquiries from strip club operators wanting to move their operation to the suburbs,” reports Edwards.
McDonald is unperturbed by the fireworks, determined to make the most of her business by making her business the most tailored she can. She reports this will, moving forward, involve all sorts of pub entertainment, including special stuff just for adults.
“We’ll put on more entertainment for males, as that is our market.”