The Flinders Hotel will shut its doors as a gay venue following the October long weekend.
The venue’s lessee, Sue Cameron, is understood to be in negotiations with a group of buyers who intend to shut the pub and conduct renovations.
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“The lease is in the process of being sold, we don’t have a definite date as yet. The new owners will be shutting down for a period of time. I have no idea if it’s going to remain a gay venue,” said the bar’s manager Chris Milne, who along with other staff members, has been left without a job.
“I’ve informed all the Bears and all the other girls nights we work with that this will be going on, so they’re relocating, and some of the girls nights are taking a rest. It’s kind of the end of an era for a lot of us who have worked here.”
Harbour City Bears president Jonny Bastin confirmed the club would move its Friday Den Night to the Oxford Hotel. Bears on a Sunday will move to the Lord Roberts on Stanley St.
“The Oxford is perfect for the Friday and The Lord Roberts is a fantastic venue for the Sunday because it’s got a massive outside deck area upstairs and a restaurant I know the Bears will love,” Bastin said, adding that a shift to two venues could provide added security for the club in the future.
The Bears used to hold their den at the Oxford, before being given two weeks to vacate so the previous owners could renovate.
“There is a bit of hostility about how HCB was treated then, but that management is no longer in control of the Oxford,” Bastin said.
“The current licensee has reassured us that the venue’s been turned into a full-time gay and lesbian venue.
“We’ve made it very clear in our discussions with the Oxford that if Bears were to go back there, we want to make sure the Bears get a high profile — we’re on the ground floor, we don’t want to be shoved in the downstairs or upstairs bar.
“He’s promised that the ground floor is ours but has also offered us access to the underground Gilligan’s Bar and access to the whole hotel when possible for things like Bear Essentials.
“We’re really excited to be going back there. The plans that have been outlined for us at the Oxford have really seen it coming back to its heyday in the ’90s when it was the main gay bar.
“The deal we’re getting for our members is fantastic, and what the Bears are really going to like to hear is that the beer is going to be cheaper at the Oxford and all the other benefits will still be there.”
Cameron was unavailable for comment, however, in January she denied rumours the Flinders would be sold, claiming she had put the lease on the market “only for the purpose of valuation”.