Musos, fans harbour hope for the pub that rocked
JOSEPHINE TOVEYOctober 3, 2009
Legendary launchpad ... singer-songwriters Darren Hanlon, Sarah Blasko and Jack Ladder were Hopetoun regulars. Industry insiders say the pub could be sold for about $3 million. Photo: Edwina Pickles
THE music might have died at the Hopetoun this week but there's a good chance Sydney's rock lovers will witness a resurrection.
The iconic venue closed without warning on Monday, triggering a frenzy of speculation and an outpouring of protest and nostalgia from artists and fans.
The Herald revealed on Wednesday that the pub was being quietly shopped around for sale amid rumours of a split between the owners, prompting fears the pub might remain empty in a difficult market.
The Hopetoun Hotel, which has been a breeding ground for up and coming bands, has closed. Photo: Penny Stephens
But hotel industry insiders said interest in pubs was strong and there was reason to hope.
''There's a good opportunity for an owner-operator with a bit of equity to make a living out of that venue,'' said John Musca, a broker with Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. One of the owners, Evangelos Patakas, blamed recent fines from licensing police and a need to upgrade the building in accordance with council safety regulations.
According to the City of Sydney Council, a development application for the hotel approved last October did require the pub to make a number of safety upgrades. However, there was no strict deadline for these works that would have necessitated the abrupt closure. Mr Patakas was not available for comment yesterday.
Mr Musca said the pub could sell for about $3 million.
The sudden closure was a surprise to bands booked for shows, bar staff and operators of the upstairs restaurant, Rider.
Anna Sokol said she and her partner planned to reopen their Mexican kitchen, which held a month-to-month lease, somewhere else in Sydney next year.
The Hopetoun was popular with artists and fans. The venue gave all the door money to the musicians, and removed its last poker machine in April last year.
Around Sydney this week and online, people shared their favourite memories of the legendary venue.
The booking agent Adam Yee spotted a young Sarah Blasko there playing to a crowd of fewer than 20 people one Monday night.The singer and songwriter Darren Hanlon was on call early in his career to fill empty slots at the venue, and once joined Blasko for a duet at a Pixies tribute night, while new favourites such as Jack Ladder and Dappled Cities were regulars at the pub that nurtured them.