In Changing Times by Clyde Mooney

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Tonight sees curtains up for Jaime Wirth and partners’ reincarnation of Woolloomooloo’s famous Old Fitzroy Hotel, with selected new complementing the polished act. 

For the past few years, since selling his Drink n’ Dine portfolio, Wirth has joined with Michael Delany in their hospitality business International Worldwide, working toward a new direction in pubs. 

The pair teamed with Joel Amos, founder of online natural drinks shop DRNKS, and Chris Deadman and settled on Enmore’s The Duke in October 2018, reopening in November after significant renovation.

In February this year the team announced acquisition of Wirth’s long-ogled George Hotel in Waterloo, and later the same month secured a new lease at the storied Old Fitz.

The Old Fitzroy is a century-old corner local in historic Woolloomooloo, boasting a homely public bar and popular venue the Old Fitz Theatre, with its near-cult following.

The pub had been owned and operated by the Pasfield family since the early 2000s.

Wirth has long lived nearby, and familiar with what’s available, spoke of plans to satisfy gaps in the market, while respecting The Fitz’s role in the precinct. 

“We’re not there to change it, just freshen it up a bit … give it some new life,” he told PubTIC

“We’re doing it because we love the pub.”

Following April’s unveiling of the George, now serving authentic Mexican and a huge selection of natural wines, tonight sees unleashing of the new Old Fitz, ushering in select changes including a modern take on dining classics.

Beyond new (not-so-sticky) carpet and paint, the front bar has stayed pretty much the same and still pours plenty of old-school staples, beside a few newer labels.

 “Keeping with the ‘don’t f**k it up’ brief from its loyal patrons, The Old Fitz will stick true to its century-old heritage in the spirit of the quintessential Australian corner pub.

“In tribute to the rusted-on locals, the 20-odd beer taps will be stocked with classics (VB, Emu) and a rotating selection of craft specials. And yes, there will be some cocktails.”

The cocktail list takes a page from the English boozer songbook, offering the likes of Black Velvet – made from champagne and stout, Pimms Cups, Juniper Slings and Penicillins.

Chef Nic Hill conducts the new kitchen, bringing experience from fine dining institutions Sepia, Quay, the Ledbury and Ecco Bistro for dishes described as “next-level” pub classics, with a nose-to-tail bias. This is Hill’s second venture with Wirth, following The Flinders eatery Duke Bistro.

The dilapidated upstairs room has been renovated to better suit large groups and functions, the design brief coming as “an old man’s study meets drinking den”. The courtyard has also been revised, now featuring plants and new furniture.

But the Old Fitz Theatre remains the same, at the rear, with nightly shows that change every six to eight weeks.

Hoping to have struck the right chord with Wooloomooloovians and beyond, Wirth and crew are set for critical acclaim.

“The Old Fitz is open now for locals new and familiar.”