Following the news on Monday that the Annandale Hotel had raised enough money through its buy-a-brick scheme to start work on repairs, we got in touch with co-owner Matt Rule to find out the full extent of their plans for the venue.
The buy-a-brick scheme's provided a good result so far... Were you expecting such an immediate response to your buy-a-brick scheme?
We were hopeful that people would get behind the concept, but I guess when you put yourself out there like we have, you're always nervous until you start seeing things ticking over. We've just cleared the 400 mark and now it's all about 500. So far so good, but there's a long way to go.
You've started on cosmetic renovations, painting the outside of the venue; how extensive do the renovations need to be?
The plan is to create a new fully-functioning Annandale Hotel; a hotel that doesn't live and die on music alone, but has great bar and restaurant facilities, operating seven days a week. The exterior painting is almost done, and we should be able to start work on the toilets this month.
If we can keep hitting our goals with the Buy a Brick campaign, stage two will see us move into the band room for a complete overhaul. We're pretty excited about what's being proposed, and I think with the plans we've got for that space it should enable us to compete again for acts against the newer venues. We're also planning to add a staircase, which will give patrons access to the first floor and open up a whole new element to the hotel.
Finally, if we can stick to our timeline, we'll move onto the beer garden/restaurant area just prior to summer and reinvigorate that space. We'll be adding a great little footpath coffee bar to that space as well, which will help fuel all of our caffeine requirements.
And we all know what coffee does to the body. So those famous toilets are the most pressing renovation?
I'm pretty sure most people will agree the toilets are friggen terrible here, so whilst it's not the type of upgrade we'll see an immediate return from, I'd say for all of our sakes it's the most "pressing".
Indeed, punters hold a fond spot in their hearts for the Annandale's toilets, so are we talking a full Grand Designs-esque makeover with glistening white tiles, frosted glass doors, etc.?
"Fond spot" could be pushing it; they certainly are memorable. Grand Designs maybe not, but a nice makeover with a cool quirky Annandale feel is what we'll be aiming for. The most important things we'll be trying to achieve are clean, smell-free dunnies.
Finally, to keep punters at ease: what will the renovations change, and not change, about the Annandale Hotel?
Change: the ability of the hotel to attract quality entertainment and provide bar, restaurant, and cafe facilites. Not change: the history and community feel. We promise that all upgrades will be in keeping with the wonderful history of the hotel. It will be new, but it won't look like some polished turd.
To purchase a brick and help speed up the renovation process, head to the Annandale's website.