ONE of Sydney’s most iconic gay-friendly bars The Imperial Hotel has been sold to new owners who promise to “reinvigorate” the venue for the LGBTI community.
The news comes after the now-former owner of the venue reportedly took over management of the Erskineville pub, who were met with two closures ordered by authorities since becoming venue managers in April.
[showads ad=MREC]Yesterday, bar barons Fraser Short and Scott Leach confirmed in a statement that they have signed off on a deal to purchase the Imperial Hotel.
Short has been credited as a driving force behind Morrison’s Bar and Grill and Watson’s Bay Hotel, while Leach is a longtime Erskineville resident and runs the Rose of Australia pub just a few doors down the Imperial.
Both Short and Leach have promised to reinvigorate the iconic venue made famous by seminal queer Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
“We have stepped up because we are passionate about its future,” Leach said in a statement.
“We recognise the Imperial’s importance to the LGBTIQ community and we will be reaching out to the community in coming months as we try to create something unique and special with the venue, whilst acknowledging its LGBTIQ heritage.”
The hotel will remain closed for the next few months while the new owners consult widely, including with the LGBTI community, on the direction of the venue.
Short said said three million dollars would be immediately injected into the troubled site.
“It will remain shut in the short-term but we are injecting funds immediately to start creating a modern food and beverage option for the venue,” he said.
“This will include the introduction of a custom kitchen and high end restaurant business to meet the local community demand.”
In April, Spice Group International took over management of the Imperial Hotel, installing its regular nightclub party Spice Cellar in the basement space with events targeted at the LGBTI community focused at the front bar.
Since then, licensing authorities have ordered the venue to close on two separate occasions for serious breaches — first on June 19 and then on July 24.
After the second closure, former owner Shadd Danesi — whose portfolio also includes popular Taylor Square gay nightclub ARQ — reportedly took over management of the The Imperial and said the inner-west Sydney venue would temporarily remain closed.
It was understood at the time that Spice Group were not invited to re-tender for the management of the venue.[showads ad=FOOT]