Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hopetoun For Sale?

Howls of protest as Hopetoun shuts

September 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.''


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Most recent City of Sydney Council Determination for the Hopetoun Hotel

For those who are interested, here's the most recent City of Sydney development determination and assessment for the Hopetoun Hotel.

The assessment includes the requirements that the Council imposed on the Hopetoun.

Response from Councillor Marcelle Hoff

Cheers to Alex Pye for posting the reply she received.

Hi Alex,

In following up on this I've been told that NSW Police, not Council, recently issued a $3000 penalty infringement notice to the Hopetoun for failure to provide adequate security personnel in accordance with their development consent. This is a requirement of the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing.

It would be interesting to ask how officers of the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing feel about hotels that do not have pocker machines!!

Council has not issued any order for the premises to close.

I will be discussing this further with a number of Hopetoun supporters to see what action can be taken to support the Hopetoun.


Marcelle Hoff
Independent Councillor
City of Sydney
GPO Box 1591
Sydney NSW 2001
Ph: 61 2 9265 9706
Fax: 61 2 9265 9416

Mess + Noise Hopetoun Hotel update

Hopetoun Hotel Update

News posted Tuesday, September 29 2009 at 01:00 PM.

Hopetoun Hotel Update

Sydney’s Hopetoun Hotel will be closed for a minimum of three months, a spokesperson for the Surry Hills venue confirmed today (September 29).

Speaking to M+N following yesterday’s abrupt closure, the spokesperson said that extensive works were required to meet council standards, but that the venue is expected to open again thereafter.

“The works required are to make the pub compliant with fire ordinance and other conditions connected with the operation of the pub as a venue,” she said. “We have had notice for several months, however the work is extensive and cannot be done while the pub is trading.”

In the meantime, all foreseeable events including shows by touring internationals Tiny Vipers and Vivian Girls have been cancelled.

The spokesperson thanked members of the local music community – some of whom started a Facebook group, a Twitter page and a blog – for their support. “We wish to thank the patrons and supporters of the Hopetoun and apologise for any inconvenience caused by this temporary closure,” she said. “We will develop a strategy for dealing with the issues over the coming weeks and will take you up on your offer to help when the time is right.”

The spokesperson was speaking on behalf of Evangelos Patakas, the director of a company which has owned the Hopetoun Hotel since the late 1990s.

UPDATE (September 29, 3.25pm) Council security regulations have also been blamed for the Hopetoun’s temporary closure. Echoing the woes of a number of small venue operators in Melbourne, The Hopetoun has had to ensure that two security guards are present at all shows at considerable cost to the venue. “In a period of about a seven days we were fined a total of about $3000 for not having them on certain nights,” Hopetoun director Anastasia Patakas told M+N.


ABC Online article on Hopetoun

Sydney fans hit the web as venue closes

By Emma Swift

Posted 9 hours 8 minutes ago
Updated 6 hours 2 minutes ago

The Hopetoun Hotel in Sydney which closed its doors on 28 Sep 2009

Thousands of bands have graced the stage of the Hopetoun Hotel. (ABC: Emma Swift)

Sydney music fans are reeling after one of the city's most loved venues closed its doors.

A note was left last night for patrons of the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills, saying the venue would be shut until further notice.

No official reason has been given for the closure, but an online campaign has already begun to see the pub re-opened.

Music fan Matthew Vierboom started a "Save the Hopetoun Hotel" group on the social networking Facebook yesterday.

So far, more than 3,000 fans of the venue have signed up.

"Almost everybody in Sydney who goes out and sees live music will have definitely seen a show at the Hopetoun," he said.

"It's just a Sydney music community reacting to the unfortunate news of something like this happening and wanting to do something about it."

The popular live music venue has been a staple of the Sydney independent music scene for years, with bands performing seven nights a week.

Discussion groups online have cited licensing laws, including a demand that the hotel have two security guards on the door at all times, and financial problems as the reason behind the closure.

Dave Rennick plays in Sydney band Dappled Cities who have toured nationally and internationally and had their most recent album featured as Triple J's album of the week.

They got their first break playing on the Hopetoun's stage.

"You have to start somewhere and when you're a band like Dappled Cities, it really is about forging your way through the community...and that is exactly the path that the Hopetoun is on," he said.

He says he doubts the band would have become a success without the support of the hotel.

"It's a beacon of light really, it signifies opportunity for young bands to play in front of people who matter."

The host of Triple J's 'Home and Hosed' Australian music program, Dom Alessio has been watching bands develop their sound at the Hopetoun for years.

"The Hopetoun Hotel really did fill this great market where you could go on a Monday or Tuesday night and see a band who had never played live before who were getting their first break... but then go on the weekend and see an international touring act."

As well as joining social networking groups, fans of the venue have also begun petitioning Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

They are calling on the City of Sydney Council to show its commitment to the arts by helping the hotel overcome any breaches of licencing laws.


Sydney Morning Herald article on the Hopetoun

Hoey heave-ho upsets fans

September 29, 2009 - 3:53PM
Closed ... the Hopetoun will be shut until further notice.

Closed ... the Hopetoun will be shut until further notice.

FEARS for the future of a Surry Hills hotel mushroomed last night and today as patrons poured out their grief online after the much-loved live music venue was shut down for undisclosed reasons.

"The Hopetoun Hotel is closed until further notice," a notice stuck on the door said. "We apologise for any inconvenience to our patrons."

More than 3000 people today alone have joined an online petition - now with more than 5000 members - to "save" the hotel, as news of its closure spread rapidly.

The closure was unexpected. Various music websites had promoted events scheduled at the hotel until the end of November.

Finance, noise and security problems were suggested as reasons for the abrupt closure. The venue was one of the city's most popular for emerging talent.

An email announcing the closure was circulated to artists who were due to play at the hotel in coming weeks, said entertainment website

"Due to circumstances beyond the control of the Hopetoun Hotel we need to carry out significant works associated with Local Council requirements which necessitate the closing of our venue until further notice," Hotel owner Evangelos Patakas said in the email, reported.

A City of Sydney council spokesman said the council had not ordered that the hotel close.

"The [council] understands that NSW Police, not council, recently issued a $3000 penalty infringement notice to the Hopetoun for failure to provide adequate security personnel in accordance with their development consent. This is a requirement of the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing," a spokesman said.

"The decision to close the Hopetoun appears to have been made by hotel management. The City has not issued any order for the premises to close."

The council had been working with the hotel in recent months to allow it to keep operating while resolving "safety issues concerning CCTV security and structural deficiencies", the spokesman said.

A source close to the hotel said the approval of a recent development application had meant the hotel had to comply with new regulations, including sprinkler systems, wheelchair access and security at live shows.

But the hotel had not complied and had been fined twice.

So the owners took the action of shutting down the hotel "before they got shut down and lost their liquor licence and live music licence".

While it was shut the owners hoped to raise funds, renovate and possibly re-open in the future.

The source said the Hopetoun's owner also felt the costs associated with keeping the hotel running were too high.

"He feels like the music community has bled him dry ... the sad truth is people running the pub probably didn't believe in the music community as we all hope and believe they do."

The hotel's management did not return calls either today or last night.

A "Save The Hopetoun Hotel" group on Facebook had more than 4000 members about lunchtime today. There were less than 2000 last night.

One patron, Angela, wrote: "Great, close another one of Sydney's best ever venues . . . no wonder Melbourne has the best and most flourishing music scene . . . this is bullshit!".

Others described the hotel as the "lifeblood" of the local community and music scene.

A band of regulars are trying to solve its apparent financial woes. Suggestions include donation drives, benefit gigs, an auction of signed band memorabilia and even a pool competition.

On the Facebook group "I Heart The Hopetoun", Kristin wrote: "If anyone is doing anything to help rescue the Hoey – me and all my 'old school' mates will definitely be on board! We all grew up there . . . from the rock against work days to now."

The issue had a steady following on Twitter under "savethe hoey".

Sydney band Dappled Cities, who played often at the Hopetoun, said the action to close the hotel was taken to preserve its future.

"There have been a number of council issues recently and management decided it would be better to close now rather than lose everything through council closure," band member Alex Moore wrote on the band's blog.

He said the "worst thing" would have been the hotel remaining open, losing its entertainment licence and then being forced to sell the building to a developer.

Musician Jamie Hutchings was due to play at the hotel on Friday.

With two support acts coming from interstate, Hutchings - who is also a member of band Bluebottle Kiss - said he was unsure whether they would be forced to cancel the show or find another venue at late notice.

He described the Hopetoun as "one of the few constants on the Sydney music scene".

"Live original music is a boutique market these days, not a money spinner, we should be encouraging venues like the Hopetoun to continue operating as easily as possible to keep it alive," he said.

The abrupt closure also caught off-guard the owners of Rider, a Mexican restaurant upstairs at the Hopetoun Hotel.

Co-owner Anna Sokol said while there had been frequent visits to the hotel in recent weeks by police, she had not been notified about the closure and arrived yesterday to find the hotel shut.

"We can't even get in there to get our stuff, we've got perishables and equipment," she said.

"No one's returning our calls."