Howls of protest as Hopetoun shuts
JOSEPHINE TOVEY URBAN AFFAIRSSeptember 30, 2009
THE Sydney rock venue the Hopetoun Hotel has been boarded up and quietly put on the market in a move that has sparked howls of protest from music fans and artists.
The Surry Hills venue closed without warning on Monday night, leaving staff, ticket-holders and artists in the lurch.
One of the venue's owners, Evangelos Patakas, yesterday blamed an accumulation of fines from police and onerous directives from the council to upgrade the notoriously grungy building for the closure, but said it would reopen next year.
The pub needed to install sprinklers, wheelchair-accessible toilets and a sound limiter on the PA, he said. ''It was something we were scaling down but the costs have just blown out so disproportionately.''
But a spokesman for the City of Sydney said there were no current directives to the venue to upgrade its facilities and that only one noise complaint had been received lately, which had been resolved.
"The city has been working co-operatively with the licensee of the Hopetoun for the past few months to allow them to keep trading while maintaining public safety,'' the spokesman said.
The Herald has learnt the hotel has been quietly put up for sale amid rumours of tension among the co-owners, Mr Patakas, his sister Anastasia and Ms Patakas's husband, and the venue manager, Paul McCarthy.
Mr McCarthy and Mr Patakas did not return calls last night.
This month the pub was hit with $3000 worth of police fines in a week for not having enough security guards on the premises. A fall in ticket sales and the decision to remove poker machines are also believed to have contributed to the venue's demise.
Bookers scrambled yesterday to reschedule gigs at other venues. Sydney music fans rallied around the pub on radio and the internet, while musicians including Sarah Blasko, Darren Hanlon and Jack Ladder voiced support for the venue that gave them a foothold in the city.Blasko said she had played to fewer than 20 people at one of her first Sydney shows at the tiny venue. ''It was one of the only places you could get a gig when you first started playing,'' she said. ''It's so intimate, you almost feel like you could order a drink from the stage.''