TEAM BEHIND MARQUIS OF LORNE CLIMB MT ERICA

In Our Pub by Clyde Mooney

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After closing suddenly at the end of 2016, Prahran’s Victorian-era Mt Erica Hotel will soon be reopened with a new fit-out and old soul.

Furthering and following on from their successes at Fitzroy’s Marquis of Lorne, Will Benjamin, Matt Vero and Callan Hitchens are mid-execution of a big overhaul of the big 1853-built Mt Erica, on a prominent High St corner in Prahran.

Having been on the lookout for a new project since opening the Marquis three years ago, the guys have checked out potentials in the likes of Brunswick and Richmond, but ended up back at one of their beginnings.

“My business partner and I used to live around the corner, so we’re familiar with the area and we knew the ins and outs of the pub before we moved in,” Benjamin explained to PubTIC.

“The challenge is, we’re kind of not trying to modernise it, we’re trying to create something that looks like it’s always been there … really keep the soul of the pub, but make it more relevant to the community – the food and the booze.”

This has sparked a renovation sympathetic to the 1950s and 60s, featuring tartan, cork floor tiles, mustard and caramel-coloured timber panelling, and period light pendants. The old function room will be removed in favour of one big beer garden.

Benjamin says while the layout of public bar, dining space and beer garden is a formula he embraces, Mt Erica is double the capacity of the Marquis and should be a true community space.

“With the Marquis it was about leaving what we could and only adding things that looked like they’d always been there.

“Essentially with the Mt Erica, although internally not much remains, we’re going to set the same principle – really classic front bar, timber floors, lots of natural light, kind of that bustling feel of a public bar. It should really feel like a meeting spot.

“I think we’ve managed to achieve that in a smaller space in Fitzroy, with this larger space it should really create that old school public bar atmosphere.”

The team is currently finalising another new offering in Richmond – the old Union Dining hotel, similarly heritage-listed. While this will open very soon, the Mt Erica makeover is on track to debut in October.

“It’s a bigger job than anything we’ve done before,” says Benjamin.

Mt Erica Hotel circa 1920. Image: Facebook

Mt Erica Hotel today. Image: Google maps