A newly-formed operation has taken over and repositioned the (former) White Cockatoo, tapping straight into the demanding inner-west market.
The partnership between Dr James Bodel and Locky Paech began, like most good things, in a pub. Upon meeting mid-2014, the pair soon began discussing a pub investment, and last December their venture Goodtime Hospitality bought the White Cockatoo.
Eager to hit the mark with the offering, they took an opportunity to find out what likely patrons were wanting in the place.
“We were aiming to be a true inner-west pub, and thought the best approach was to engage the locals,” Paech reported to PubTIC.
“While we were waiting for Council approval on some things, we ran the business for six months, talked to locals and neighbours, and got a sense of what was missing … what the area didn’t have.
“We researched all competitors, and tried to pick gaps in what was being offered around here. As a new group, we wanted to offer something perhaps a bit more refined than the competition.”
The result is West Village – a carefully orchestrated nod to both the original heritage building and some modern on-trend additions.
The original cluster of small rooms downstairs has given way to a far more open-plan public bar area, better utilising the space but designed to retain a slightly dark, moody “Melbourne-style” feel, according to Paech.
An adjacent block had been incorporated into the footprint by the previously owners, and this was used along with the existing gaming area to create a lush indoor/outdoor garden space, with lots of plants. Council would not permit this as a smoking area, so it is dedicated to the pub’s strong focus on food, courtesy of chef Sam Thomson (formerly Catalina).
Later this year the courtyard will see the launch of a sub-brand – Patio. Pitched as a pub-café, it will offer breakfast from 7-11 am, drawing on the Hotel’s location, directly opposite Petersham train station.
The exterior, like the interior, had not seen new paint in a while, and Paech says the complete refresh was pretty overdue and exactly in line with the kind of project Goodtime wants to tackle.
“We liked that it is such a large venue, with multiple revenue streams. It still has accommodation, and big opportunity for an increase in food & bev, from basically nothing.
“This is kind of the business model with James: revamping old, forgotten pubs.”
Hailing from nearby Redfern, Paech formerly worked with trendy publicans Drink n’ Dine at venues such as The Norfolk and The Forresters.
The new business with Bodel, who recently divested a successful interest in the Medical industry, boasts a “completely new” approach. The Cockatoo’s eleven gaming machines, now down to eight, are part of the balanced operation.
“We relocated the gaming room out back, and gave it a bit of ‘Goodtime’ treatment, potentially even breathing a bit of life into the gaming concept; we decorated it a little tongue-in-cheek, with chandeliers and other little touches.”
Open now since 2 November, less than three weeks, Paech says he’s been blown away with the response.
“I had no idea how busy it was going to be, it’s taken us a little by surprise. People are saying they’ve been waiting so many years for something to happen here.
“We’ve made the conscious decision to always take the same approach of learning from patrons that live close by, and see what they think.
“It may not be so much in the city, but pubs in the suburbs are very personal. Vey local.”