In Changing Times by Clyde Mooney

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The Short-Laundy collaboration has reopened the Mona Vale Hotel as Park House – stage one of its $12 million renovation unveiled yesterday.

Fraser Short and Arthur Laundy bought the big suburban pub at the north end of Sydney’s northern beaches back in 2014 from Peter Beaumont, as part of a $50m package deal, along with Northies at Cronulla.

Located opposite Village Park on Barrenjoey Road at the start of its journey to Palm Beach, the Hotel was built in 1925 as the Old Rex Motel, and has been well patronised by the community for generations, changing moniker to the Mona Vale during the 1980s.

The affluent northern beaches demographic had largely outgrown the pub’s incarnation of recent years, and Short relayed visions of a full makeover at the time of purchase. Since that time concerted community engagement has sought understanding of the area, with two years spent on the design.

Stage one, now open, is Park House Food Merchants – a 180pax warehouse-style family restaurant opening to a spacious courtyard, sporting a décor that is industrial by nature, but with Mediterranean influences to bring seaside to mind without being ‘beachy’. Whitewashed brick and timber walls surround a mix of group spaces, with lounge seating and long high-tables. (see video tour below)

The restaurant serves a variety of healthy and on-trend dishes, reflecting Mexican, Mediterranean, the Middle East and vegetarian, under former Jamie’s Italian Australasian head David Clarke, as executive chef.

Around 1,000 friends, relatives and special guests were taken through the new offering in the days before opening, gleaning positive and valuable feedback.

While stage one is now trading, this is largely disguised by the under-construction subsequent stages, which will include the Parkside Truck Stop due early 2018, and the craft beer-focused locals’ bar Front Yard Brews & Burgers, slated for opening a week before Christmas.

“That’s the next stage,” Short told PubTIC. “It’s not a ground-breaking concept, but I think it’s really fitting for the area and the demographic we’re pitching to, and really fitting for the type of space.

“In the end Park House will have four restaurants, probably six bars, and events and private areas. And we’ll have a pretty amped-up family area for the demographic around here, which are trying to keep kids off iPads.”

Proximate to Justin Hemmes’ sprawling project The Newport, and between it and Merivale’s newly-acquired Collaroy, the revised Park House is well positioned to boost and benefit from the destination appeal of the precinct for both locals and day-trippers.

“We can’t let Justin have all the fun,” says Short.