Steve Bartlett of the Queanbeyan Tourist Hotel has a development application before council for upgrades to the pub. Photo: Elesa Kurtz
Renovation work to convert Queanbeyan's Tourist Hotel into a high-end pub will begin this week, after sign-off was granted by the Queanbeyan City Council.
"This is a blokes' pub from a bygone era," developer Steve Bartlett said. "The pub is in desperate need of repair and we have plans to inject a completely different atmosphere."
The decor of the Tourist Hotel hasn't been refreshed in more than 40 years, but Mr Bartlett said the vision for $1.8million upgrade would include buttermilk and black shine tiles on the front facade, a marble front bar with dark wood booths and leather lounges.
Having done a venue facelift for Walsh's across the road, Mr Bartlett said Queanbeyan was ready for an upmarket choice in town.
"We developed Walsh's 14 years ago. In those days you couldn't get from pub to the cab rank without getting in a fight. [Then] we put security guards with dogs on the street, but the town has changed dramatically since,'' he said. ''People want a nice upmarket place to go."
Initially the proposal for the site included an eight-room motel at the rear of the hotel. But Mr Bartlett said this was excluded quickly after it was made clear access to the new motel site would not be feasible under current council land zoning. The plan modifies the existing dining room to make way for a partitioned smoking and gaming area.
Council's approval of the development was contingent upon the retention of the dining room fireplace, stained glass windows and cornices on the ceilings.
Drawn-out discussions with the council over the renovation were important to get right, Mr Bartlett said, so the new venue could deliver high-end service with a separate area to accommodate gaming and smoking.
"Having an outdoor smoking area is critical, but without compromising the ambience of the building, particularly dining areas," he said.
"You couldn't put it in the front because you need good street appeal. You can't put it at the back, because people are eating there, so the only place for it was the laneway."
Mr Bartlett said while none of the historic features were protected by any heritage listing, they were an asset to the building and he was glad to have been able to reach a timely agreement with the council.
"We need to be open and finished before Christmas," he said.
"If the council didn't approve it then [renovators] would have all had to find other work and there isn't any other work."
Mr Bartlett said the pub would trade throughout the building phase and expected the project, due to be completed in December 2014, to employ more than 60 people.