By Triana O'Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier
What are some of the key developments during 2014 for Merivale?
Well we had a few new acquisitions last year. The Paddington Arms - we haven?t reopened that yet but it is on the cards for this year. We acquired the hotel next to CBD, now an art-based pop-up bar ?Work in Progress?- it will soon be revamped into a wine bar. We also acquired Coogee Pavilion which we spent a lot of our time refurbishing. We have opened two levels so far: the ground floor and the rooftop.
ivy won ?Hotel of the Year? for Australia, nation-wide and we picked up seven awards at the NSW AHAs. I think the business is in a stronger position than it has ever been - based on performance on figures, staff and on general feedback from our guests.
What would you say contributed to this success?
Our in-house training, our quality of recruitment and the morale of staff all contributed. The morale is at an all-time high and we have a very strong and positive team. Always professional; we are quick to react to changes and we adapt quickly which is exciting for us. The team is all on the same page.
There have been many changes with the legislation within the industry ? but with such a diverse offering across the group, we can adapt quickly and tailor our offerings to work around this. Which we did and those things were enjoyable.? 2014 was challenging but when you see the results it is very rewarding.
How do you motivate your staff and increase morale?
I think it comes from every angle, particularly our senior management and the senior managers across the individual hotels and venues. We are a very tight-knit team, we do a lot of bonding activities. We just had a staff party, themed around [US music festival] Burning Man ? we had two thousand staff dressed up to the hill, which was amazing. They had the best day. Things like that are fantastic, they are money can?t buy activities and experiences. And the staff love it.?
Over the next twelve months what can we expect to see from Merivale?
Well hopefully more of the same. We are about to open two venues in Oxford Street [Paddington] this year. We also have a couple of jobs in the pipeline but I can?t reveal too much about them just yet. And who knows what tomorrow brings ? every day is a new day for us.
What is your first ever memory / experience within the hospitality industry?
Well I do remember Hotel CBD, when we first opened- it was a Friday night and we were incredibly busy, there was a large spiral staircase that goes from the ground floor to the first floor. All levels were full; we operate a ground, one, two, three, four and five - there were six floors operating. This was back in 1993 or 1994, and I remember there weren?t many pubs or hotels that had DJs, so we had a great DJ playing. It was about 11 o?clock at night, the place was jumping. I was standing on the spiral stairs, halfway between the first floor, looking at the crowd and seeing how things were going. The next thing I know everything stopped. The music stopped, the lights turned off and the emergency lights came on. We just lost power throughout the building and I freaked out.
I remember bolting down the spiral stairs, pushing my way through the crowd at ground level, down more stairs into the basement where the power supply was. I went straight to the electrical meters and discovered something was jamming the bi-fold doors. Then I heard this screaming noise. I managed to pull the doors open and a couple had taken it upon themselves to get extremely ?comfortable? in the electrical cupboard. As they were in the motion of what they were doing her back slid up the electrical box and turned every circuit breaker off. You could definitely say Merivale brings people together!
By Triana O?Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier
Hotel CBD (1995)
Hotel CBD launched in 1995, providing five floors of entertainment space. The CBD Bar on the ground floor opened its doors and was welcomed by Sydney patrons in droves. The first floor catered to a restaurant with the second, third and fourth floor bars catering for a lounge bar and much needed CBD function spaces.
Slip Inn (1997)
One of the very first exciting projects created by Justin Hemmes was the concept, restoration and management of Slip Inn. Previously the historical Royal George Hotel, the pub building and its four adjoining terraces were redesigned to accommodate a number of beautiful bars and the exotic Chinese Laundry nightclub as well as delivering food from the Thai and Australian kitchen.
Angel Hotel (reopened 2000)
Formerly House of Merivale and Mr John, Angel Hotel, conveniently located on the corner of Pitt Street and Angel Place Sydney is just down from Martin Place and considered the more ?traditional style? boutique pub.
Establishment was created from the burnt out ruins of the former George Patterson House on George Street. The new building retains many of the original grand 19th century features including statuesque columns in the bar and high timber beams in the ceilings of the bars & hotel bedrooms.
This world-class emporium is the grand dame of Sydney?s entertainment scene ? boasting layer upon layer of restaurants and bars tucked behind its classical façade, plus a stunning boutique hotel that features 31 deluxe rooms including two penthouse suites.
The Hemmes family returned to the site they previously operated in Challis Avenue, Potts Point. One of the jewels of Sydney?s eastern suburbs, Lotus is a sophisticated, award-winning bistro and cocktail bar with a reputation for outstanding service.
The Grand Hotel (2002)
In 2002, the Hemmes family took back the management of this three story traditional style hotel with its old world style, unique character and everyday charm. There are three floors of bars, including a bistro and lounge area on the first floor, a pool and function room with juke box on the second floor, a ground floor bar and bottle shop.
Jam Music (2002)
Obsessed with exceptional quality entertainment, Justin Hemmes combined his enormous love of music and entertainment to launch a new Australian music company, aptly called Jam Music, which subsequently has reached international success. Jam Music, has seen tremendous growth since its inception and has four different business activities. These are the world renowned Good Vibrations festivals, touring and events, recording label and nightclub promotions. Jam Music has now also moved into publishing and royalties.
The Wynyard Hotel (2003)
In 2003 the Hemmes family took back the management of this hotel and it still maintains its old world feel despite modern room amenities. It has 13 accommodation rooms with shared facilities and a traditional bar and bistro.
ivy has created an entirely new hospitality genre and won the hearts of both locals and visitors with its unique combination of dining, entertainment, retail and relaxation.
From the very beginning, fine food has occupied centre stage in ivy?s world, with critics and fans alike hailing the menus NY-style grill Mad Cow, Sailors Thai, Uccello and Sushi Choo.
The Beresford Hotel (2010)
In 2010, the Beresford became part of the Merivale family. Along with its casual neighbourhood atmosphere it includes modern Italian trattoria dining that offers everything from a simple bowl of fries with Sicilian sea salt to wood-fired pizza, house made pappardelle and decadent desserts.
Felix Bistro & Bar (2010)
Felix offers a classic French inspired menu complemented by an extensive wine list, oyster bar and rotisserie. Felix also offers a large cocktail and wine bar for casual drinking and dining. The restaurant?s stunning design includes real Parisian subway tiles on the walls, a pewter bar and chandeliers imported from France.
El Loco, Excelsior Hotel (2011)
In May, 2011, the long-standing Sydney music venue, The Excelsior Hotel became part of the Merivale portfolio and was revived to incorporate an eclectic Mexican cantina, with executive chef, Dan Hong, serving up a pared back menu of tacos and salads.
Upstairs Beresford (2011)
Taking over from where The Excelsior Hotel left off, live music venue, Upstairs Beresford opened in June, 2011 on the first floor of the much-loved Beresford Hotel. Inspired by some of New York?s finest music venues, the venue is designed to give both the performer and patron a first class experience offering state of the art technology and a full suite of amenities backstage.
30 Knots, The Grand Hotel (2011)
In July 2011, Merivale opened 30 Knots, the refurbished first floor of The Grand Hotel. The nautical themed, boutique and craft beer bar is complete with maritime touches of rope and naval artefacts throughout, offering beer aficionados a modern twist on the age old pub feel.
Mr. Wong (2012)
Mr. Wong opened its doors in August 2012, swiftly establishing a firm following amongst media, Sydney locals and travellers alike. Led by head chefs Dan Hong and Eric Koh, the 240-seater Cantonese restaurant recently won ?Best New Restaurant? and two hats at the 2014 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards, ?New Restaurant of the Year? in the 2014 Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide Awards and ?Best New Restaurant? in the 2013 Time Out Sydney Food Awards. Set within the existing fabric of the old Tank Nightclub, Mr. Wong embodies the elegance of 1930s Shanghai, infused with a modern essence.
El Loco Slip Inn (2013)
The successful El Loco brand was launched into Slip Inn in 2013. Initially intended as a summer pop-up, El Loco at Slip Inn proved so popular amongst regulars and newcomers that it was decided to make the delicious and authentic Mexican cantina a permanent fixture in the popular city establishment. Dan Hong and Christopher Hogarth have extended the El Loco menu to suit the corporate crowd, dishing up more substantial meals alongside the fan favourite tacos
Papi Chulo (2013)
Papi Chulo, Merivale?s first restaurant in Manly, officially opened on New Year?s Eve 2013. Located on the? iconic Manly Wharf, Papi Chulo is a smokehouse and grill dining destination, headed up by head chefs, Patrick Friesen (Ms G?s) and Christopher Hogarth (El Loco). Dan Hong oversees the restaurant as executive chef.
Paddington Arms (2014)
In February 2014, Merivale announced the purchase of the Paddington Arms. Merivale has begun construction on the Oxford Street site, with the hotel closed for renovation until later this year. Plans for the venue will be announced in due course.
Work in Progress (2014)
Merivale continued its commitment to Sydney?s hospitality sector in April 2014 with the purchase of the Noble Canteen (previously Trumps Tavern) at 50 King Street, Sydney. Merivale will first launch an art-based pop-up bar at the King Street site, due to open late April.
Aptly titled ?Work in Progress?, the venue will be transformed into a live art studio, offering Sydney?s CBD a new and engaging bar experience. The studio will be curated by the acclaimed Glenn Barkley (Independent Curator and former Senior Curator MCA Australia), alongside Darwin-based pop artist, Franck Gohier.
Coogee Pavilion (2014)
Overlooking one of Australia?s most iconic beaches, Coogee Pavilion, is a vibrant lifestyle destination in the heart of the Eastern Suburbs. The ground floor offers a variety of lifestyle and casual dining experiences and is the ideal location for get-togethers, weekend breakfasts, coffee dates, light snacks and catching up with friends.
Led by a dynamic team of Merivale chefs, Coogee Pavilion offers an extensive coastal menu, alongside wood-fired pizza, cocktails, organic juice and freshly ground coffee.
By Triana O'Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier
'Mr John' Hemmes
10 September 1931 - 1 March 2015
John Hemmes was a migrant who overcame extreme hardship in early life to become one of Australia?s most remarkable entrepreneurs.?
Born on 10 September 1931 in Surabaya, Java, to Dutch parents, John was barely 10 when World War II arrived at the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese imprisoned the whole family ? John?s parents, himself and his younger sister ? and about a year later John was separated into a men?s camp. Here he endured deprivation and physical abuse.
John remained imprisoned and apart from his family until 1945 when the reunited Hemmes clan moved back to Holland - John seeing it for the first time.
At the age of 19, John?s father sent him to New Zealand, where he took any job he could find. In 1954, frustrated by lack of opportunity, John decided to return to Europe, a journey that broke in Sydney.
As John watched his fellow passengers boarding the ship Otranto he spotted a beautiful young blonde woman called Merivale, a self-taught milliner from the Sydney suburb of Burwood en route to Paris to work. By the time the vessel arrived in London they were engaged. Shortly afterwards they wed.?
Within a year John and Merivale were back in Sydney, living in a converted garage at the back of her parent?s home. Merivale created beautiful hats which John, working in a series of jobs around Sydney, sold to high-end outlets in between shifts. When one department store kept removing Merivale?s labels and replacing it with French couture labels, John took matters into his own hands and launched his first business.
By 1957, they had opened their first shop in Sydney?s Boulevard Arcade. John ran the business and served customers while Merivale designed hats and, later, clothing.
Within two years they opened the first House of Merivale fashion store in Sydney?s Theatre Royal building on Castlereagh Street. House of Merivale would expand into three stores in Pitt Street, two in Melbourne and one in Canberra.
In 1970 John purchased 194 Pitt Street, using it to sell fashion but also launch his first foray into the hospitality business with a Thai tea café.? A year later he bought the Angel Hotel, opening it as a multi-level fashion outlet with a restaurant and espresso bar.
House of Merivale lit a fire beneath Australia?s staid fashion scene, introducing not just 'modern clothes for people with a zest for life? but a new concept to local retail. Aimed squarely at 18 to 25-year-old women, these eye-popping outlets styled by Merivale, introduced Sydney to the specialty fashion boutique.
John brought the Swinging Sixties into the Australian retail world; music pumping, youngsters lined up to get in and experience a series of firsts ? first chance to hear the Beatles music in Australia, first place to buy the mini skirt or Merivale?s famous crocheted swimwear - all at prices they could afford.
House of Merivale produced a continual turnover of novel, limited edition in-house designs and stocked fashion by other cutting edge young designers such as Prue Acton, Kenneth Pirrie and Norma Tullo.
Realising that the boyfriends of his female customers were borrowing their House of Merivale shirts, John also launched the ?Mr John? label to cater for the emerging male fashion market.
Celebrity clients ranged from Cher, Marlene Dietrich, Liza Minnelli, Mick Jagger, Barry White and Jose Feliciano to Eddie Fisher. Sales staff included Chrissie Amphlett (who would burst onto the music scene with the Divinyls), Stevie Wright (from the Easybeats), and Dale Tryon.
As retail conditions changed, John reoriented the business to exploit new opportunities. The early 90s saw the opening of Merivale restaurant in Potts Point?s Macleay Street and by 1996 the last Merivale fashion outlet closed.
John and Merivale then turned their attention to expanding the Merivale Group in tandem with their son Justin and daughter Bettina. Under Justin?s leadership as Chief Operating Officer and Bettina as a designer and director of the group, Merivale is now a multi-million dollar hospitality and entertainment business with a growing portfolio of more than 50 restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels and function spaces in Sydney.
John?s lifetime of achievement generated considerable acclaim.
Apart from numerous hospitality awards ? including the Vittoria Legend Award in 2010 (SMH Good Food Guide Awards) - House of Merivale was honoured for its outstanding contribution to Australian fashion in 2013 with a bronze plaque on Australia?s Walk of Style at the corner of Oxford Street and Glenmore Road, Paddington.
By Triana O'Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier
Since its launch in 2014, the newly converted and multi-themed Coogee Pavilion has been embraced by the Eastern Suburbs. The venue is celebrated as a vibrant lifestyle destination that caters to a broad range of tastes, budgets and occasions.
?We wanted to offer the locals and Sydney-siders alike something for every occasion,? said Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes.
?You can?t eat pork chops every day of the week,? he joked.
Hemmes said the Merivale team had taken the time to analyse current market trends before deciding on the solution for the rooftop space.
?The result is magnificent,? he said.
?It truly is a magical space and it was an incredible adventure discovering the spaces within spaces ? a treasure hunt of sorts.?
The Rooftop opened in the height of summer and has already become a firm favourite for locals and travellers alike. The middle level will launch late 2015 / early 2016 with further details to be announced.??
By Andy Young
The Australian liquor sector has called on the Federal and State governments to ban the sale of "powdered alcohol" in Australia.
"Palcohol", which is a pouch of powder to which water is added to make a standard drink, has recently been approved in the US and the ABC reports that its manufacturer is interested in the Australian market.
The Australian Hoteliers Association (AHA) has raised its concerns over the product, which it says is "inconsistent with the responsible use of alcohol within Australian society and the Responsible Service of Alcohol codes that apply in every state."
AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson told TheShout: "The AHA has written to the Federal Health Minister recommending that any form of powdered alcohol be prohibited from sale. Our view would be that it should be a prohibited item full stop."
"The AHA doesn't believe that powdered alcohol has any benefit for Australian society at all. Our fear is that it would just encourage people to drink just to get drunk.?
Mr Ferguson went on to explain just some of the many concerns that powdered alcohol raises.
"There are so many risks and harms associated with a powdered alcohol,? he added. "For example, at the moment if we think that someone shouldn't be served alcohol, often a publican will give them a glass or a bottle of water. This would then be open to them pouring ?a powdered alcohol in there and getting worse. Drink-spiking could also happen; the list of problems just goes on and on.
"How Australians consume alcoholic beverages at the moment, is around sociability, generally it's around people coming together and having a beer, wine or spirit and creating a social atmosphere. This is not that; powdered alcohol would have close to zero sociability aspect."
The president of the Australian Liquor Stores Association, Giuseppe Minissale, agreed that the product should be banned.
Mr Minissale told TheShout: "Alcohol is a by-product of many wonderful drinks in our industry.?
"Consumers come in to buy a bottle of wine and that bottle of wine is used for an occasion. I do not see any occasions where alcoholic powder works.?
"Nobody comes in for a bottle of alcohol; somebody comes in for a product.
"So in my view, this product should be banned. I see absolutely no need for this product in this market."
The Victorian government has also called for the product to be banned, with Minister for Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett telling the ABC: "This product is dangerous."
"It will be easy to get into venues, easy to carry around in backpacks, it's obviously a bit of a novelty," Garrett added.
"Regulating the amount that's used is really difficult. How this thing is measured, if it's poured into a punch bowl, what does it do?"
The Minister told the ABC that she intends to write to her federal and interstate counterparts in a bid to stop the powder's availability in Australia.
This sentiment was echoed by Mr Ferguson, who added: "It needs to be emphasised that [powdered alcohol] needs to be banned at Federal government level and at State level. We don't want a rogue jurisdiction thinking that it's OK."
By Andy Young
The Australian retail liquor sector has been praised by the government for its workplace flexibility, which affords thousands of Australians the opportunity to find work that suits them.
The recently launched Australian Retail Liquor Market Insights report, published by the Australian Liquor Stores Association, highlights that Australia's retail liquor sector provides 165,000 jobs across Australia. This includes 47,360 direct jobs, in full-time, part-time and casual positions, "creating a broad range of flexible employment opportunities".
It is this flexibility and the age range employed in the liquor sector, which has been praised. Speaking at the launch of the Market Insights report, Senator Scott Ryan said: "In recent months the Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, has emphasised that the government is focused on getting more people under the age of 25, more young parents and more older Australians into work that suits them.
"These groups, for a variety of reasons, often face challenges in entering the work force and I congratulate your industry for playing a key role in employing workers from across the community."
The report also notes that the sector plays a vital role in supporting participation in the workforce, by providing casual and part-time employment to people who have other commitments and who are trying to balance a busy lifestyle.
"Just as important is on the job training," Senator Ryan added. "Your members ? bottle shops and other outlets around the country ? provide that essential 'money can't buy' training to young people and others. Whether it be in customer service, team work or some of those basic work skills we increasingly talk about; being punctual, reliable and even work place health and safety.
"Simon Birmingham's efforts to create a world class training and vocational training system, together with your members' efforts to employ and train young people on the job, will ensure the strength of Australia's future work force, as well as serve the needs of your millions and millions of customers."
The ALSA Market Insights report was launched in Canberra last week and highlights the current trends, performance and social contributions of Australia's retail packaged liquor sector.
By Andy Young
The Institute of Masters of Wine has named five new Masters of Wine, including Australian Miles Corish MW.
Corish joins just 20 other Australians to have been named MW, and this group of five brings the total number of MWs to 323, based in 24 countries.
Sarah Jane Evans MW, Chairman of the Masters of Wine, said: "On behalf of all Masters of Wine worldwide, I am delighted to welcome these new members to our community. Today is a memorable day for them - each one of us can remember that special moment when we received the news that we had become MWs.?
"My congratulations to them on their achievement. They bring a range of experience to enrich the IMW and I wish them every enjoyment of the opportunities that being a Master of Wine brings."
Corish is currently the managing director of Bowland Forest Vintners, a wholesaler and retailer based in Lancashire. A Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) educator, consultant and competition judge, Corish initially moved to England to play professional cricket and does like to return to the Hunter Valley to make wine under his own label.
Corish is joined by four other new MWs, including Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW, a lecturer with the WSET, Jennifer Docherty MW, a buyer for Liberty Wines, Patrick Schmitt MW, editor-in-chief at The Drinks Business and Victoria Stephens-Clarkson MW, the head of buying for Atlas Fine Wines in London.
The MW qualification sees candidates complete a theory and a practical examination plus a research paper, over a minimum three-year period.
By Amy Looker, editor - National Liquor News
Hahn SuperDry launched a new TVC campaign last night from its 'Experience Collectors' platform.
Available over television, digital and out of home channels, the campaign is inspired by the story behind the Hahn brand itself and tells a tale of following your passions to gain new experiences.
"We are hugely excited and proud of this new Hahn SuperDry campaign. Experience Collectors is exactly the kind of thought provoking and inspiring work we aspire to for Hahn SuperDry. It's one of our flagship brands and we know it will continue to grow and move the beer market forward," said brand director, Tanya Marler.
The campaign was developed by Ogilvy, who won the Hahn business in mid-December with its strategy for Experience Collectors.
"This campaign marks the beginning of an exciting period for Lion as we embark on this new creative partnership with Ogilvy. We believe they have already set the benchmark high with this outstanding work," said Marler.
The TVC and digital campaign will run for six weeks, with additional bursts later in the year.
By Stefanie Collins, editor bars&clubs
SouthTrade International has announced that it will exclusively represent Dictador rums in Australia.
The Colombian brand uses solera system aging, and will have three expressions available in Australia ? the Dictador 12 Year Old, Dictador 20 Year Old and Dictador XO.
Established in 1913, the brand is named after an 18th century rum-loving Spanish strongman who was in charge of taxes in the Spanish colony of Nueva Granada (the former name for Colombia), who was nicknamed Dictador, Spanish for Dictator, by the locals.
Marek Szoldrowski, President of Dictador believes that Australia represents a fantastic opportunity for the brand.
"The progressive cocktail culture and desire for premium quality products have led us to believe that Dictador has great potential in Australia and we can build on Dictador?s worldwide success," he says. "Our move to SouthTrade will unlock national opportunities by utilising their networks and experience in the premium spirits category in the on and off trade."
By Triana O'Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier
Without a growing customer market, and with added regulatory and legislative pressures, the need for hoteliers to reinvest and remain relevant is more pressing than ever before.?
According to Ferrier Hodgson's Morgan Kelly, in order to retain and grow market share, operators must entice customers to their venues over other offerings in a saturated market.?
"Customers now have higher expectation than ever before," he said.?
"Small bar atmospheres, point of difference themed venues, quality food and beverages, design decor ? even all this is sometimes not enough."
Kelly urges operators to keep agile in a rapidly evolving market by constantly reinvesting in their venue.?
Pat Connolly of Colliers International suggests hoteliers should consider two markets when planning to make improvements to their properties.?
"First they must consider their own day to day customers ? the eaters, drinkers and punters ? or in other words, their income," he told Australian Hotelier.?
"The second is the hotel property and business market ? the person who will eventually purchase the hotel ? or in other words, the value."
JLL's vice president pub investment sales Mitchell Humphreys agrees that pub owners must be across all facets of their business from food, wine, beer selection and service.?
"The pub design, its architecture and theme have all become topical for patrons, which is creating more pressure for operators to constantly update and spend capital on their venues," he said.