One of Bendigo’s most historic pubs is going back to its roots to better capitalise on the trade it is missing in the thriving Victorian town.
After 12 years owning the Metropolitan, aka Pugg Mahone’s Irish Pub, Andrew Lethlean says it’s time for a change from the themed, late-night venue to a more upmarket food and beverage venue catering for many different markets.
With its black façade, Puggs has focused on a later, nightclub-style patron, offering high-volume live music to a young crowd. Lethlean told PubTIC he had reached the point where 80 per cent of trade was done after 9pm, despite the prime location, and he decided to go back to a being good “all-rounder pub” again.
“We’re the only pub in the middle of town, and there are three to five thousand workers within a kilometre of us, so we needed to change things to cater for these business-type people as well.
“You’ve got to diversify in this market, offer places for people to meet and enjoy fresh food and entertainment. We’ve got a great balcony, courtyard and alfreso are – I want to make the most of these areas.
“We will still be offering live music on Friday and Saturday Nights but with more of an acoustic and laid back nature. We will still be open late but will be offering a far more extensive beer, wine and spirit range for the patrons to enjoy either before or after dining.”
Copping some flak from the band-loving regulars, Lethlean says he wants to provide for a much wider market as there are “thousands out there that want to go out and enjoy a good night out”, but don’t necessarily want to go to a late-night or loud band venue.
Lethlean also owns the Taphouse craft beer and cider bar next door, and has re-located the band offering there as the alternative for late-nighters, with more subdued entertainment in the Metropolitan.
““We’re open now from 10am, for meetings and the like, offering coffee, fresh juice bar and cakes. I’m aiming to have done substantial foodservice by lunchtime, where before we weren’t really an attraction for many diners. By night we will aim to attract both locals and tourists alike with varying special offers throughout the week.
“Our food was good, but underutilised, so the menu has been modernised, with emphasis on tapas, gourmet burgers, pizza and full a la carte, and the kitchen is open until 10pm Thursday through to Saturday.”
The Metropolitan was built in 1861 and held that iconic Aussie pub name until the new millennium, when it was re-branded the Irish-style Darby O’Gills and later Pugg Mahone’s.