The Royal Leichhardt to restore historical balcony
We spoke to licensee Mark Chapman about keeping the local open and providing a consistent offering while undergoing a refurbishment.
“The Royal Leichhardt originally had the balcony on the hotel and it was taken down in the mid to late 1920s. When we took over we were looking for ways to improve and really give the hotel vibrancy; we saw an opportunity to reinstate the heritage balcony and add a presence to the streetscape of Norton street, while providing a great place for our locals and the broader community with alfresco dining,” said Chapman.
Updating the visual impact of The Royal Leichhardt is just one aspect of the refurb. “Along with the balcony we’re also increasing our bar offer. We’re actually building another bar, which will give us an opportunity to really expand our cocktail offer and our beer range – we’re increasing the number beers on tap – as well as giving a good range of food,” said Chapman.
Chapman said continuing to operate through renovations has its challenges, but refurbishment is a necessary part of maintaining a relevant offering. Good communication, he said, keeps things running smoothly. “We’ve communicated it well to the locals and broader community and I think there’s a general excitement about what we’re doing.
“We have to make sure that we keep our offer consistent and that there’s still a good old local that people can come and enjoy,” Chapman said. “The upstairs botanical bar and dining area is largely unaffected. There are a few little things we’re doing up there, but we are still trading as normal with the same food and beverage offering.
“It’s always nice for people to be in here. They get to be witness to the changes and we can explain what’s going on.”
Business as usual for The Royal Leichhardt also means continuing to hold long-running promotions, like Martinis and Manicures. “We’ve been running Martinis and Manicures for a few years now,” said Chapman. “We've got a local beautician who does a great job for us and we get great feedback.”
On top of regular offers, Chapman said The Royal Leichhardt has added some refurbishment-focused promotions to make up for any disruption. “We did a deal with our builders: for every Friday that the main bar area is affected it’s the builders shout. It’s also a chance for the locals to come and engage with the builders, and hear about what’s going on. Hopefully that helps people feel like they’re a part of the process.”
Refurbishment of The Royal Leichhardt is due for completion in mid-August.
Images: Alana Dimou.