Another rock hotel faces heartbreak
Sound of silence ... Daniel and Matthew Rule blame Leichhardt Council for the woes of their venue, right.
LAST week it was the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills. Now another leading live music venue, the Annandale Hotel, is under threat because of mounting costs and council demands.
The hotel's owners, Matthew and Daniel Rule, inherited a few gigs when the Hopetoun closed its doors, but fear they will ultimately face the same fate.
The brothers say they have been fighting Leichhardt Municipal Council for eight years over noise compliance, late trading and development applications to upgrade parts of the hotel.
An ongoing battle in the Land and Environment Court has cost them close to $200,000 and, according to a freedom of information search conducted by the Rules, it has cost the council more than $100,000.
''If we keep getting hit and continue to not get support from the council then this hotel in its form will be no longer,'' Matthew said. ''For years we've been fighting and continually loaning money to defend ourselves. We just can't do it any more.''
Matthew describes a recently submitted development application for an improved hotel plan and refurbished restaurant as ''our last throw of the dice''.
The Annandale, built in the 1930s, became a live music venue in the early 1980s. It has hosted hundreds of artists including Jet, the Living End, the Dandy Warhols, the Hoodoo Gurus, and Sarah Blasko.
In 1998, new owners replaced the bands with poker machines. That was unsuccessful and when the Rule brothers bought the hotel in 2000, they reinstated live music and scaled back the number of pokies to nine.
''If the Annandale closed it wouldn't be the death of the live music scene but it would be something not too far off that,'' said Jono Graham, guitarist for Sydney band Made in Japan, who sold out their EP launch at the Annandale in February.
''For so many bands it has been a transition point from being an unknown to stepping onto a bigger stage. It's one of those monumental places that stands for all that bands are about: good music for cheap and a great venue with great sound.''Leichhardt's Mayor, Jamie Parker, told the Herald the council is open to negotiating with the hotel on some regulations. ''But when it comes to things like fire safety and patron safety, we can't compromise on that.''