The Mitch Hotel has come to life in Alexandria heartland, as new owners Brett and Clare Davis reinvent the space into a serious good-time local.

Balaclava Hotel c.1949

Originally the Balaclava Hotel, opening in 1920, the site at 50 Mitchell Rd later became known as the Buckland Hotel, before a spell as a Fratelli Fresh.

In a nod to its inner west arterial location, the Mitch is now under the familial stewardship of the Davis’ as a traditional watering hole, open 11am ‘til late every day, devoid of gaming machines and a TAB.

“Just good food and booze!” says Clare, co-owner and force behind the new look.  

“Craft beer and groovy cocktails to be a feature … delicious pub food, including wood-fired pizza.”

Brett Davis began in hospitality in the 90s, waiting tables at functions while attending university. He worked as a bartender, travelling, and quickly moved into management, at Whitehouse group’s Tilbury Hotel in Woolloomooloo. His journey into pub makeovers was shaped at the likes of Newtown’s Bank Hotel renovation, later joining Solotel for a re-working of the Edinburgh Castle Hotel.  

It was during a redevelopment of the Brunswick Hotel in Hobart when he met Clare, who has been in the game for nearly as long.

Starting in hotels and functions, Clare moved into media, at Nova 969, then event management with George P Johnson.

For four years the couple operated King St cocktail bar Gurdys, in Newtown, before taking the keys at the Kurrajong Hotel, in Erskineville.

Looking to their next challenge, they saw opportunity at the vacant Alexandria pub and sought a new lease.

The neglected building had most recently operated as an Italian restaurant and a green-grocer, necessitating the removal of a massive fruit and vegetable cool room.

Led by a new name for a new era, the look and feel of the entire venue was overhauled, requiring new furniture and finishes, lighting, and features including a garden atrium, as well as all new air-con, refrigeration and beer systems.

The produce cool room has been converted into a large space for functions and events.

After months of preparation, the Mitch Hotel officially opened on the 11th to an enthusiastic crowd of locals.

“It has been a very busy first week,” says Brett, catching a moment between serving patrons.

“Clare is the creative brains that pulls together the look and feel of our venues. The amazing spaces that our guests are in awe of and spaces I get to play in are very special knowing the hard work and creative flair that Clare’s been able to conjure.” 

The hands-on couple are intently focused on the new venture, at times roping in their three daughters to help behind the bar, but keep their eye on the big picture.

“We hope to get more, and build something of a portfolio, but for now we’ll be working hard to get Mitch humming along.”

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