Festivals & Venues July 11, 2018

Melbourne’s Espy to re-open with diverse entertainment format and more venue news

Melbourne’s Espy to re-open with diverse entertainment format and more venue news

One of Melbourne’s best known and longest running live music venues the Esplanade Hotel, aka The Espy, in bayside St Kilda, is set to re-open in November.

The reported $30 million revamp by new owner, pub group Sand Hill Road, will include a number of music spaces.

The venue has made a call-out to musicians and the industry for bookings.

“The entertainment factor has always been a diverse one, and that’s stayed the same with the Espy,” new entertainment manager and booker Peter Bain-Hogg tells TMN.

Seasonal cultural events and a visual arts component are to be overseen by Janenne Willis, board chair of the New Wave festival.

The Gershwin Room remains the main space, with 550-standing capacity for live acts, and 300 for a number of smaller configurations including dinner & show events similar to the old Continental.

It has been the longtime home of RocKwiz, the TV show which Bain-Hogg founded. SBS is yet to confirm the next season.

The downstairs basement and public bar, to fit 80—100 patrons, will be for acoustic and songwriter showcases, with discussions for a folk club to make its home there.

An in-the-round stage near the double staircase will also host pop up shows and other residencies.

“It would be fair to say that Fridays and Saturdays will be DJ- and electronic-driven,” Bain-Hogg says.

In other changes, the Espy will grow from two to four levels. A new Cantonese restaurant Mya Tiger is set up to look at St. Kilda’s bustling nightlife.

Another new addition is the high-end cocktail bar The Ghost of Alfred Fenton, named after the arts benefactor who lived at the top storey of the hotel until his death in 1904.

There’ll also be a beer garden, a podcast studio and the famous Espy Kitchen.

The 140-year old Espy has been closed for 3 ½ years. It was bought by Sand Hill in May 2017 for $13.2 million.

In their renovations, the new owners have been very careful to consult closely with the local community as to what they wanted in the landmark.

Previous owners that tried to turn the site into multi-storey apartment blocks were met with fierce lobbying campaigns which ended with their retreating.

 MORE VENUE NEWS

  • Fremantle’s Victoria Hall, most recently the home of the Fly By Night music venue, could be put up for sale.
  • The Fly By Night is leaving next month after its lease ran out as it was not making money, and the City of Fremantle’s finance committee is discussing the sale possibility tonight.
  •  The Vauxhall Inn, in Sydney’s west, has changed hands, with the Redcape hospitality group reportedly paying $30 million for it.
  • Newcastle music venue The Prince of Wales in Merewether is set to re-open today after a fire.
  • Its kitchen and parts of the bar were damaged by the blaze, which apparently started in the kitchen, and brought under control in 10 minutes.

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