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Nights of secrets cave under weight of law

Ian Meldrum, owner of the Holy Grail in Kingston, which will serve its last drinks on Friday.

Ian Meldrum, owner of the Holy Grail in Kingston, which will serve its last drinks on Friday. Photo: Melissa Adams

The Holy Grail - the scene of political whispers, late-night encounters of the powerful and the sometimes embarrassingly raucous behaviour of Australia's elite - is closing its doors for the last time.

The restaurant and pub will call last drinks this week, after 16 years of trading from Kingston's Green Square.

Owner Ian Meldrum says rising liquor licensing fees, a decline of business activity in Kingston and an increasingly difficult regulatory environment have forced him reluctantly to shut up shop.

A sign outside of the Holy Grail, Kingston.

A sign outside of the Holy Grail, Kingston. Photo: Melissa Adams

But he will certainly not leave empty handed, having acquired his fair share of potentially explosive secrets hosting at the regular haunt for senior politicians, backbenchers, staffers, journalists and lobbyists.

''I could tell you some stories that are unbelievable about their behaviour,'' Mr Meldrum said. ''You would worry about how this country is being run.''

Mr Meldrum even alludes, rather cryptically, to a collection of videos he holds of ''political figures behaving badly''.

But his former patrons needn't fear. Mr Meldrum believes in a code of confidentiality between those behind the bar and their paying customers.

''The one thing that is important to remember is that a lot of them are very decent, hard working and honest people,'' he said.

''Sometimes they confide in you with things they probably shouldn't, but out of respect I would never disclose any of that information.

''It doesn't do anyone any good.''

Mr Meldrum said the venue was still profitable, but says a host of new regulations hurt his bottom line.

The ACT government's liquor licensing scheme, which increased fees for the Holy Grail from $2000 to $16,000 a year, proved painful.

Mr Meldrum said the high vacancy rate in Kingston, huge costs for outdoor space and smoking bans had also hit hard.

''It's a reluctant move because the cost of doing business has just escalated so much in the past few years and profitability has declined to a point where it's not worth it for the hours you put in,'' he said.

It goes out with a bang on Friday night, with the party starting at 5pm.

3 comments

  • Sad to see it go, have had some good times, looks like I be spenting my time at the Dirty Durham with the Cougars

    Commenter
    jake
    Location
    canberra
    Date and time
    February 05, 2013, 9:03AM
    • It is always sad when a small business shuts its doors, however there are already way too many pubs / clubs /bars in Canberra -and with a Coalition-induced local recession on its way, Holy Grail won't be the last to go.

      Commenter
      Mahendra1988
      Location
      Woden
      Date and time
      February 05, 2013, 9:06AM
      • Isn't it odd that with all the appartment development at Kingston Forshore that in there is a decline of business activity in Kingston .

        Commenter
        Jimmy
        Location
        CBR
        Date and time
        February 05, 2013, 11:25AM
        Comments are now closed
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