Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes has announced the former Newport Arms hotel will reopen on Good Friday.
Hemmes bought the 1.15 hectare site, worth an estimated $50 million, 12 months ago. He’s spent the past 10 months, two months longer than planned, in a $250,000 redevelopment of the biggest beer garden in the southern hemisphere, the first stage of a five-year plan to upgrade one of Australia’s most popular pubs.
The delayed reopening will see the hotel rebranded The Newport,giving Hemmes another foothold on the northern beaches, along with Papi Chulo at Manly Wharf.
Hemmes will reveal his plans for stages two and three of the redevelopment later this year. The initial work on The Newport was led by Kelvin Ho and Emilie Delalande of Akin Creative, with stylist Amanda Talbot, Hemmes and his sister Bettina.
“With its sprawling grounds, magnificent landscaping and team of over 450 passionate locals, this is one of the biggest ventures we have ever undertaken. We are so excited and proud to finally open the first phase,” Hemmes said.
The revamped beer garden will feature a juice bar, a kiosk for coffee and donuts, a wood-fired pizza oven and burger bar, along with a temporary marquee serving seafood.
An outdoors deck has been built as a stage of daily live music, while the entertainment also includes badminton, ping pong, exercise bikes that can charge mobile phones and a giant magnetic scrabble board.
The Newport Arms was first granted a liquor license in 1882. It was rebuilt in 1971 following a major blaze in the late ’60s, and owned by the Bayfield family for 25 years before being sold to Merivale last year.
With just over a week to go before the delayed reopening, the site is still far from complete. Here’s a schematic of how the site should look following the redevelopment.