AHA NSW President Scott Leach and celebrated hotel innovator Fraser Short reopened Erskineville’s troubled Imperial Hotel last night, with big plans for LGBTI interaction.

After a series of service breaches including open consumption of drugs that saw OLGR inspectors punish previous operators Spice Group, the high-profile new owners are determined to see the new operation off to a clean start.

The Hotel resumed trading last night without fanfare and at limited capacity, but with assurances an extensive consultation process with locals is underway.

One hint of things to come is the potential for “Australia’s first gay and lesbian chapel” – according to Beau Kassas, former marketing manager at Fraser Short and Arthur Laundy’s Watsons Bay Hotel, who has assumed that role at the Imperial.

The Hotel has a long history with the LGBTI* community, most famously due to its role in 1994 film Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

“We would love to see couples tie the knot and in the future it would be amazing to see same-sex marriage offered across Australia. The fact we could be championing it here is great.”

This first phase of the new Imperial has seen the unveiling of the ‘Small Bar Addition’ and a new cocktail menu. Coming soon will be the revamped cabaret room, re-branded as ‘Sweet Escape’, and a re-worked offering in the notorious basement area, which for now remains closed.

Inextricably linked to Newtown’s cultural melting pot, King St, the Imperial’s five-month absence from the local hospitality scene is arguably enough to refresh the memories of a large percentage of its potential clientele.

“Fraser’s main focus is to keep the history and culture of the venue alive as we reopen it to a new generation of patrons,” said Kassas.

Short and Leach purchased the vacant Hotel in August from freehold owner Shadd Danesi, after OLGR twice shut down the leasehold operators.


*LGBTI: Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Intersexed

Photo: supplied by JLL
Photo: supplied by JLL
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