Developments in Newtown

As we walked through Newtown/Enmore this afternoon/evening, a few things caught my eye. First, the little Scandinavian Christmas display in the window of the Gourmet Viking, the Scandinavian restaurant on Enmore Road. The restaurant wasn’t open, so I don’t know if they have any special plans, aside from advertising glögg in the window for $6.50 per glass.

And the second thing I noticed was the work going on at the Newtown Hotel. For many years, the Newtown was a favourite pub of mine to attend. And then suddenly three years ago it closed with little warning to patrons. I still remember it quite well – and of course I blogged it – as my friend Graeme and I had planned to have a drink there on a warm, pleasant Sunday afternoon, only to arrive and discover it had closed, and that someone had actually erected a tombstone outside in memory of good times.

Since then, the “gay pub map” of Newtown has remained fairly bleak. Of course “The Imperial” re-opened again a few months ago, and today when I saw work going on inside with builders, and staff doing all sorts of things, I rang him instantly.

The big question – will it re-open as “gay”?

Newtown Hotel Tombstone
Newtown Hotel Tombstone

“Probably not/possibly not” sounds like the conclusion, though you can never say until it actually happens. Graeme googled the pub and came up with the following article from the Sydney Star Observer

The Star Observer has since learned from the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing that the licence for the hotel was transferred from McHugh to Newtown Colonial Hotel Pty Ltd in November last year under the name Helen Kritikos. Attempts to reach Ms Kritikos through her lawyers were made four times this week and written questions — asking if the hotel would reopen as a gay venue, or if not, whether the hotel would welcome gay customers or be open to gay events being held at the venue — were sent. Calls were not returned and a reply was not forthcoming.

That’s a shame I thought to myself and commented to a colleague I was with. He’s a straight bloke who’s gay-friendly, and who’s been to The Newtown and The Imperial, and knows a lot of the history. We then got into a discussion about the pros and cons of gay only, straight only and mixed pubs. In a city I think there’s room for all three types of pubs. And with only a few gay bars operating on Oxford Street, and with only The Imperial operating in Newtown/Erskineville, I hope there’s room for a re-opened bar in the style of much-loved, much-missed Newtown Hotel.

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