The Star Hotel — formerly the Opium Den — has closed indefinitely after revelations the hotel’s new licensee and the venue owners are locked in a legal battle over payment of the leasehold.
The beleaguered Abbotsford gay and lesbian pub has had its fair share of teething problems since announcing a return to its roots as The Star Hotel, including a battle over naming rights for weekly gay Asian event, Lotus Nights.
Licensee Peter Urbonas told Southern Star he has launched legal action against the hotel’s owners for alleged breach of contract after they closed the pub for renovations a few months ago.
“It’s all technical, it’s all in legals, we’ll be going to court,” he said.
According to the pub’s website, the hotel has been owned since 2003 by a consortium including Eric Asche, Alison Asche, Wendy Hogg and a fourth person referred to only as Rob.
Urbonas said he wanted to carry out renovations while the pub was still operating so some profit could be made, however, the pub has been mostly closed since Urbonas took over earlier this year.
The hotel was closed in June because the venue’s liquor licence had not been transferred into Urbonas’ name. The licence has since been sorted, however, money owed to the owners is disputed.
Urbonas said he needed to pay the owners $40,000 for the lease, but is contesting this as the hotel has not been open since he took over. He is now refusing to pay the lump sum.
King Victoria drag king promoter Bumpy was disappointed by news of the closure.
She said she and her performers were now venue-less after promises from Urbonas that things would be up and running by September 5.
“We were promised June, and now September, that things would be up and running. We’re going to have to find a new venue,” she said.
“It’s sad this has happened, but we’ll definitely be coming back.”
The hotel owners could not be contacted for comment in time for print.

© Star Observer 2017 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex (LGBTI) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.