In Changing Times by Clyde Mooney

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Laundy Hotel Group has capped off a big week with a grand unveiling of repositioned destination pub, the Woolwich Pier Hotel.

Having bought the pub from the Medich family in 2015, for the past few years the Laundy Hotel Group (LHG) has maintained the operation at the end of Woolwich Road, where the Lane Cove River meets the Parramatta River – known locally as The Pier.

After developing a concept they felt was in tune with what was wanted at The Pier, LHG engaged architects Alexander & Co to help create the new look, with a brief for a contemporary, casual elegance with a refreshing coastal feel, while respecting the heritage fabric of the 1885 building.

“Woolwich Pier is steeped in history, which became obvious as we peeled back it’s layers,” says Justine Laundy.

“We revitalised the best aesthetic elements of this heritage and combined it with a fresh, eclectic mix of European and LA style – with comfort emerging. It’s not uncommon for four generations to meet in this hotel, so we needed a modern style with a nod to nostalgia. I believe we’ve achieved this.”

Many of the changes in the multi-million-dollar renovation are seen upstairs in new events space The Social, via a new staircase and upcoming lift, destined to host weddings and private functions.

There is a working fireplace, new bar, new frameless shugg windows, and a spacious wrap-around balcony with stunning views stretching over Cockatoo Island and the harbour that can seat 70 patrons.

While much of the already successful kitchen and staff remain unchanged, head chef Glenn Tabudlo has cooked up a new modern French brasserie-style menu, with a Japanese twist. Highlight dishes include Sashimi Grade Tuna Tartare, Filet Mignon, and a Crispy Skin Miso Salmon, while the pub’s classics do remain – particularly house favourite, Chicken Pot Pie.

The new menu will star in the new brasserie area, The Eatery, decked in elegant marble accents and pink and grey hues. Or for a more casual affair, The Parlour bar offers large marble tables and leather booth seating with velvet armchairs. The manicured garden and courtyard provide the alfresco dining experience.

After months of planning and preliminary work, the curtain dropped on The Pier for around three weeks while key elements were done without patron reshuffling, before a quiet reopening this week ahead of the official first weekend of trade.

“It does look very nice, and it’s responding. It’s going very well,” replies group patriarch, Arthur Laundy.

“My daughter Justine has done a marvellous job. It’s been her with the designer.”

Beyond the aesthetics, Laundy explains that moving the staircase and changing the layout has been one of the biggest successes of the project.

“There was a lot of dead space where the staircase came up, and there were rooms behind, in a corner. We pulled all of them out, and we’ve probably made provision for about 40-50 more people upstairs, and the same downstairs.”

The Pier has long been an institution for the area, typically seeing capacity crowds on New Years’ Eve. The time spent operating it prior to the redesign has helped LHG manage the transition to what is looking to be a considerably busier pub all-round.

“We’re all excited about it.”