When the venue went up for sale late last year after sitting dormant for eighteen months, the Didier family swooped in and bought it, seeing the Hotel as a bold new venture that the whole family could be part of.
“It’s been a huge challenge, I think especially for me,” says the Hotel’s general manager, Jo Didier. “Just with all the little bits and pieces, starting new, you’ve got staff coming and going and finding your feet but it’s definitely worth it, I love it. It’s really exciting.”
The Didier family also bought the two shops next door with future plans for expansion. Jo sees the retail space being renovated into a piano bar or something similar. Once that gets going, they will have to see how everything will be set up in terms of where things are located in the hotel.
“We’ve sort of done everything we want to do in the hotel at the moment cosmetically,” she says. “We just did all the paintings and walls and stuff like that, so there’s not really much more to do until obviously we extend next door, then we can look at what we do in both spaces.”
Although the bandroom doesn’t exist anymore, the East Brunswick Hotel still holds a live music program that runs from Thursdays through to Sundays and features mostly local acoustic duo or solo artists. Didier thinks this suits the venue, because the restaurant, bar and stage are all in the same area. This makes for a pleasant accompaniment to the dining experience and also caters for punters who want to see some great live music.
“We can’t go to extremes and have big bands but it’s something we enjoy and I think people enjoy coming and listening to different local Melbourne acts,” she explains.
What makes the East Brunswick Hotel really unique is its three levels, all offering a different feel and setting to them, as well as 12 boutique style hotel rooms. The cellar downstairs was all concrete floor, ceiling and walls when the Didier’s took over, but they renovated it with plaster walls and a nice timber feature and set it up perfect for a small private function. The ground level public bar caters for dining and drinks alongside the live music, and extends to the cocktail bar upstairs, if there’s no functions booked. The cocktail bar features a beautiful balcony and couches and is more suited to a larger function.
“The cocktail function area is a good space because it’s not just one big square room. You can fit in a fair few people but they’re spread around, which most people do at functions anyway, so it’s a nice area,” Didier explains.
The Didier family just want to offer the best service that they can to guests who walk in.
There’s nothing worse than going to a restaurant or bar and being turned away because you’re not dressed up accordingly, so the East Brunswick Hotel want to create a warm, welcoming and homely environment, where everyone is treated with respect.
“We’re not for pretentiousness, we just want to be welcoming to everyone,” Didier says.
As they don’t have a set genre or demographic of clientele, the Didier family just want everyone to come in and have a good time. “Every place can serve the same drinks and food, we just want to give the right service. We’re just really big on integrity, and the food’s really good, we’ve got a great chef. I think they’re the main things we’ve got a focus on.”