St Kilda’s revamped Espy to include Cantonese restaurant
St Kilda landmark The Espy will open its doors for the first time in three and a half years in November, with a Cantonese restaurant, podcast studio and high-end cocktail bar among its diverse new offerings.
Melbourne pub group Sand Hill Road has revealed its ambitious plans for the 140-year-old hotel, which also involve “lovingly restoring” its live music scene, after buying it last year.
CoreLogic records show it changed hands for $13.2 million in May 2017.
Commercial Insights: Subscribe to receive the latest news and updates
The revamp will open up parts of the Hotel Esplanade to the public for the first time, expanding it from the two-level venue it was before it closed in May 2015 to four.
Sand Hill Road director Andy Mullins says the new Espy will have capacity for more than 1780 patrons, with notable additions being ritzy cocktail bar The Ghost of Alfred Felton and Cantonese restaurant Mya Tiger.
He says the former is a homage to the National Gallery of Victoria benefactor who lived on The Espy’s top storey until his death in 1904, while the latter will offer “epic views of St Kilda’s sunsets” and adjoin a function space.
Making up the ground floor will be a public bar, main bar, beer garden, podcast studio and The Espy Kitchen — to service most of the pub from charcoal grills, pizza ovens and rotisseries under head chef Ash Hicks.
Among the broad drinks offerings will be bottled cocktails and self-serve beer.
The Gershwin Room, where RocKwiz was filmed, will be retained as one of three music stages to be run by the SBS quiz show’s creator and the pub’s new entertainment manager, Peter Bain-Hogg.
“They will absolutely take care of The Espy’s legacy … of live music offerings,” Mullins says.
New and established bands, acoustic and electronic artists, DJs, buskers and open-mic comics are among the diverse acts planned for the stages
A visual arts program is also in the works, which artistic director Janenne Willis said would make The Espy “the first arts pub in Melbourne”.
Mullins says he and his partners — brother Matt, Doug Maskiell, Tom Birch and Andrew Larke — have spent the past year delving into the National Trust-listed hotel’s history, and meeting fans and stakeholders, to ensure they did justice to they pub they’d “always loved”.
“People are so invested in getting The Espy back to life. It’s a massive responsibility,” he says.
“We’re not trying to please one market. We’re going all out to create a world-class cocktail bar and then, only 27 stairs away, have 800 people looking out to the ocean, drinking beers and smashing pizzas, or heading into a gig at one of the stages inside.”
It will employ more than 300 people as the largest of Sand Hill Road’s ventures, which also include the CBD’s Garden State and Waterside hotels, Abbotsford’s Terminus Hotel, the Prahran Hotel and four Richmond venues including the Bridge and Richmond Club hotels.
This article from the Herald Sun originally appeared as “Plans for St Kilda’s new-look The Espy hotel revealed by owners Sand Hill Road”.