In Changing Times by Clyde Mooney

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Prahran’s historic Mt Erica Hotel has closed suddenly, with the landlords changing the locks on its most recent incarnation.

Built in 1853, the Stonnington History Centre says the pub is one of the oldest in the area, in Melbourne’s east.

Despite the Hotel’s social media posting its popular open mic night will be “back late January with some new surprises” locals were recently surprised by a sign appearing on the door announcing that the landlord had terminated the lease and resumed the Premises.

The Notice explained that this was because the Tenant had breached lease covenants by “failing to pay the rent for the month of December 2016 and by going into liquidation on 9 December 2016”.

At the start of last year, new management comprising restaurant owner Mark McIlroy, former MoVida Next Door chef Sunny Gilbert, and former venue manager from Keystone’s Jamie’s Italian Ross Murray took over the pub, including the launch of a trendy new food offering, Austin’s.

The pub introduced a number of concepts to attract new and repeat business, including an open mic-themed Thursday night called Melbourne Unplugged.

“Unplugged was going extremely well,” its promoter and consultant for the pub Alex Mate told PubTIC. “We were consistently getting close to 200 people, and had introduced drinks and food specials. It went from six until about 1am.”

Mate and his partners in Unplugged are amongst creditors that have been left out of pocket, and are at a loss as to why things went wrong for the new management.

Venues interested in open mic nights should contact Melbourne Unplugged.

PubTIC was unable to reach the operators for further details prior to publication.

Mt Erica Hotel, circa 1939. Image Courtesy State Library Victoria