The owners of iconic gay Brisbane venue, the Wickham Hotel, have announced a major renovations program starting early next year.

The Wickham is owned by the Spirit Group, the liquor arm of the Coles group of companies. Company representatives met with community campaigner and Wickham patron Jez Smith on November 24 to assure him they understood the importance of the venue to Brisbane’s LGBTI community.

Smith had created a Facebook group to complain about the state of the venue and staffing. He said he was pleased with the speed with which Coles management contacted him to discuss his concerns.

“It was fantastic that I received a call from Coles within seven days, wanting to meet with me to discuss the issues,” Smith said.

“I had a meeting with the heads of Coles Liquor … at their latest renovated success story, the Waterloo Hotel in the Valley, and I am extremely pleased to announce the following on Coles’ behalf.”

Smith revealed that renovations through 2012 would start with the first floor balcony, followed by the major renovation of the entire hotel.

The renovations are expected to be completed by early 2013. Smith said they would return the Wickham’s status as Brisbane’s premier gay hotel.
As part of Coles’ commitment to Brisbane’s LGBTI community, the group will hold consultations with Wickham patrons in early 2012 to find out what they want from a revamped venue.

“This is a very positive way to have the patrons involved in redeveloping the iconic Wickham Hotel into a modern, safe, and friendly establishment that will enhance Brisbane’s gay community for many years to come,” Smith said.

Smith thanked Coles management for making the time to discuss not only the forthcoming renovations, but also immediate issues affecting the pub, which management said would be dealt with straightaway.

“These decision makers understand the Wickham is an important asset in their portfolio and are not prepared to watch it go down the drain,” Smith said.
“Every issue I brought up, they agreed needed fixing, and fixing today.”

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