Hotel boom hits town

Michael Sinclair-Jones 

TOODYAY'S HISTORIC Freemasons Hotel is undergoing a major $100,000 refit with a new sports bar, TAB facilities, Foxtel and new beer garden at the rear. The latest development follows last month’s announcement of a $2.5 million renovation at the Vic, which was recently bought by IGA store owner Dean Carter.

Freemasons Hotel owner John Pearce said he had applied for a TAB licence following the closure of betting facilities at the Victoria Hotel, which shut a week before Christmas.
Toodyay’s Freemasons Hotel was originally licensed in 1860 and a second storey added in 1904 – the same year the nearby Vic Hotel’s current two-storey building was completed.

New spending on the two hotels signals growing investor confidence by two of the town’s leading business owners, and reflects similar views expressed by other local traders. (See Ask the Experts). The Toodyay Chamber of Commerce and Industry praised the hotel owners for their “vision and confidence in Toodyay’s future”.

“When two of the most prominent business  owners in town commit to such significant development upgrades, it bodes well for the future prosperity of the town and the region,” chamber President Bob Schrader said.

Mr Pearce said he had planned since last September to upgrade the Freemasons Hotel. He wanted to turn it into “a more interesting destination for visitors and locals”.

Twin developments THE FREEMASONS upgrade follows Mr Carter’s investment at the Vic, which will be completely gutted and renovated with a new restaurant, planned new bottle shop and up to 25 new motel units to replace existing dongas at the back.

Mr Pearce said: “We want to concentrate on turning our former lounge bar into a new sports bar with multiple Foxtel screens and to get the beer garden up and running properly.

“The suspended ceiling in the former lounge bar (pictured) has been removed so we can restore the original pitched ceiling.

“We’ve tried to be sympathetic to the history of the hotel against the backdrop of running a modern business –  herein lies the challenge.”

Mr Pearce said the beer garden at the back of the hotel would be properly fenced, the rear car park sealed before winter, a new storage area built behind the kitchen and a new veranda added in front of it.

“We want the beer garden finished before winter, subject to shire planning approval which we don’t think will be a problem,” he said.

“Everybody prefers to eat and drink outside, and we plan to streamline and upgrade our dinner and lunch menus.

We’ve also started weekend musical entertainment with live bands, and hope to do more.

“Lots of country towns are shutting their doors and closing down. “We think this investment will be good for Toodyay, and it’s nice to see other local business also investing in the town and showing confidence in the future.”

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